Kate Reed

Ex-journalist and former Morphine Addict


Tall, slender, raven haired, Katherine Reed was the epitome of Sarah Grand’s “New Woman.” Decidedly of a liberal, academia and artistic background, her father was an archaeologist and professor at Cambridge, and her mother was a noted actor. Reed herself had once considered a career in acting, until, by way of her Uncle James’ connections, she was offered a position with the British Naval Intelligence working at the Westminster Gazette.


A writer and journalist, Katherine Reed began her career as a regular contributor to the Englishwoman’s Review. As a schoolmate and lifelong friend of Wilhelmina Harker nee Murray, as well as Wilhelmina’s friend Lucy Westenra, she continued to remain a close correspondent to both as she pursued her aspirations of becoming a professional journalist.

Although considering herself a ‘Sherlock,’ she quickly discovered that the Westminster Gazette, who – with perhaps an all too telling enthusiasm in reply to her application, for a contributor to the Englishwoman’s Review – had done so out of deference to her connections, as rather than being assigned to investigative reportage she so aspired to, she was consigned exclusively to society pages. She was after all, ‘Lady Katherine Reed.’ And who better to provide colourful coverage of London’s most fashionable social events and rather insightful and witty columns in the daily’s Society Pages.

The daughter of Lord Charles Standish Reed – eldest son of Lord William Charles Reed, the 8th Earl of Frostwicke – and his all too youthful dalliance with a young actress, Sybil Lester – a recent addition to the acting troupe at the Lyceum Theatre, Katherine was brought up by her grandparents. Not that Lord Charles was not a gentleman, but being a rather young gentleman, with archaeological interests that would soon take him around the world, he was of mixed minds upon learning of the child – and so he had sought advice from his father. He so did want to do by right by the child. Whereupon, Katherine’s grandfather, Lord William Charles Reed, standing before the warming flames of the hearth, with a well smoked cigar in hand, expostulated he would countenance no bastard children within the Reed family.

I dare say, you, meaning we, shall do right by the child. Yes. An actress you say? Well—no matter how hushed up the affair – we shall see to it being wrap up in a fast marriage and if need be a quick dissolution of it. We’ll have Wexford draw something up – Sybil you say?

And thus, he arranged within a fortnight for his son and this actress dalliance to visit Frostwicke House, so as to be hastily and unceremoniously wed.

Lord William, by way of the family lawyer, Arthur Wexford, demanded one provision of her mother – whom upon first meeting, and withholding his objections, he strongly suspected of being of loose character – that he would of course provide for her, and she would forever have a home in Frostwicke House provided she gave up the theatre and take up the responsibilities as Lady Sybil Reed. To which a quick and smiling agreement was struck. Documents were signed. Registered, and filed. And after a year of tea parties and social functions, and secretly receiving correspondence from several fellow actors at the Lyceum, Sybil decided to abdicate her rights to Frostwicke, to Lady Sybil, and to Katherine — leaving her in the care of her grandparents, in order to return to her life in the theatre and what was to become a very prestigious career.

As for Katherine’s father, a gregarious, adventurous youth, after Katherine’s birth, he set out upon his life as a world traveller. An anthropologist and archaeologist — in which his reputation soon grew. And so, Kate’s childhood was the love of her grandparents and the world of boarding schools. She attended Kings’ College and upon graduation was looking for a suitable place for a woman of aspirations in a world just beginning to accept the concept of ‘the new woman.’

First writing for Englishwoman’s Review. And then – an opportunity to become a professional reporter – an investigative journalist – an opportunity from a rather unexpected source.

Her “Uncle James” – not related – and a recommendation by the X-Club.

Various members of Naval Intelligence, given the purview of foreign intelligence and its collation, had over the years developed advantageous liaisons with members of academia and in particular an exclusive club of nine scientists – who had formed an rather elite group known as the X Club. The stated aims of the exclusive and shadowy X Club were to reform the Royal Society and to ensure that scientific research was not held back by religious superstitions, as all members were new thinkers and strong advocates of Darwin’s theories. The club’s influence was considerable. It was regularly called upon to evaluate scientific proposals to be financed by those agencies given access and agency by Her Majesties’ government. It was by way of these liaisons that a recommendation was made to recruit Katharine Reed as an intelligencer, owing to her father being one of the founding members of the X Club. The recommendation came by way of James Abbott, Esq. a close friend of the family, as well as a member of a clandestine operation of Room 39 of the NID. It was thus that James Abbott, codename “Uncle James,’” was given authorization to recruit Katharine Reed, with “Uncle James” acting as her handler and initial contact into the tradecraft of British Intelligence.

Owing to Katharine’s estrangement from her father – a tempestuous relationship at best – which grew decidedly worse upon Katherine’s accidental discovery of the legal arrangement, in which she felt her mother had been forced to abandon all rights to her infant daughter, to the Reed family, upon the failure to meet . . . certain “provisions of a contract.” From the moment of that discovery Kate refused to acknowledge her entitlement and would not suffer to be called Lady Katherine. It was thus that “Uncle James” felt she would be most advantageous, in that she would be able to not only move within certain social circles, being a member of the peerage, but subsequently accepted by those outside of that circle, and who would welcome her forbiddance of the use of her title.

Thus, at the advent of Operation EDOM, it was decided Katherine Reed should be offered a position at the Westminster Gazette in order to monitor and control reportage, in the event of any disadvantageous incidents that might arise owing to the nature of the ’Transylvanian personage.’

It was while writing for the society pages of the Westminster Gazette, she was able to manipulate her editors into providing her a most fortuitous opportunity to investigate the mysterious Count de Ville, who had only recently arrived in London. A gentleman of considerable rumour and gossip among not only diabolists and spiritualists, but among London’s fashionably elite. It was said he was fathomlessly rich. An aristocratic from Eastern Europe full of old-world charm. Deciding upon the best initiative for infiltration of de Ville’s elite associations, she drew upon her acting skills and flattered her way into obtaining an invitation to one of Count de Ville’s much vaunted banquets held at Coldfall House.

It was during this ‘dinner for thirteen’ that Kate Reed discovered the true nature of Count de Ville. And witnessed the horror of his grotesque banquet. And horribly shocked to find that her friend and confidant, Lucy Westenra was there as well, escorted by none other than the Count. A night of horror and nightmare, she was unable to stop the occult ritual performed upon the far too seductively entranced Miss Westenra. Later, dazed and confused as to how she even escaped from the degenerate celebration, she counted herself lucky to have survived.

She dashed off a report to ‘Uncle James.” She tried to find Lucy. Only the servants would not allow her entrance to Hillingham.

Two days later, “Uncle James” informed her of the tragic events which had transpired. The death of Lucy Westenra and her mother—as well as apprising her Operation EDOM had been terminated and an official sanction given against the ‘Transylvanian Personage.’

“Uncle James” thus instructed her to make all efforts to join a small circle of individuals code named, ’Crew of Light,’ who were to bring about justice for poor Lucy and the quick demise of the Count . . . only, she was more than well aware that the other members of the “Crew of Light’ never truly accepted her loyalty to their cause.

They held deep suspicion of her having been compromised by the Count, owing to various inconsistencies in her recounting of events which had transpired that horrid night at Coldfall– as well as various contradictions in relating how she had been unable to rescue Lucy, all of which were fixedly confirmed in their minds . . . when she attempted to poison Mina Harker.

Of course, Katherine tried to tearfully explain it was only out of her affection for Mina that she had placed the poison in her glass. She explained fretfully how it was all in remembrance of the horrors the Count and his guests had perpetrated at Coldfall — what had taken place at the banquet table, in the Red Room — as well as in the guilt of her failure to save Lucy and knowing what the consequences were – what Lucy had been transformed into – and so, that was why she had tried to euthanize Mina (claiming, as well, she was only acting in concert with what she reportedly overheard Dr Seward and the Professor discussing earlier that evening, what they had called a merciful contingency, which of course they denied — even as she tried to covey her suspicions in regard to Seward and Van Helsing’s far too secretive consolations.

Seward and Van Helsing were dismayed at this disclosure of their private consultation and Kate soon found herself sedated and involuntarily admitted to St. Ignatius asylum.

A year later, Dr Seward acquiesced to her father, and his legal representatives, in allowing her subsequent release. Only, free from St. Ignatius, Katherine Reed found herself forever haunted by the memories of that horrendous night at Coldfall House and the guilt of having idly watched as the Count waltzed poor Lucy across a dance floor strewn with broken glass, watched as he had forced her to eat of what was prepared for the banquet table, to lap at the blood from his breast like some prized kitten being pressed to a saucer. As well as being horrified that she could not remember whether or not if she too had partaken of that gruesome feast served by the deaf mute and his abominable wife.

The nightmares that would not let her sleep.

Thus, dissipated by her new companions, Monsieur Cocaine and Mademoiselle Morphine, Katherine Reed became most unkind to herself, and it became necessary for ‘Uncle James’ to disavow her as a NID agent.

After the failure of Operation DAUGHTER OF UZ, upon the frantic concern expressed by her father, Jonathan Harker hurried to discover her miserable two-room flat to be in a state of severe disarray and distressingly blood splattered.

The Westenra Reign of Revenge having begun.

Further search by Harker and the Metropolitan Police came to no avail and Harker surmised if she were to be found – it would be floating face down in the Thames.

She was eventually listed by Scotland Yard as a missing person.

Her case is an open file.


Kate Reed

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