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International Women's Day 8th March

Katherine Susannah Prichard

Katherine Susannah Prichard at 3 years of age

Katherine Susannah Prichard was a Mundaring Shire resident during the years 1920 to her death in 1969. She was born during a hurricane in Levuka, Fiji on 4th December 1883 to Australian parents. She spent her childhood in Launceston, Tasmania.

When she was 3 years old the family moved to Melbourne, where she later won a scholarship to South Melbourne College. Her father, Tom Prichard, was editor of the Melbourne Sun newspaper. After leaving school she worked as a governess and journalist in Victoria, then travelled to England in 1908 to work as a reporter for the Herald newspaper.

For some years, she worked as a war correspondent and during that time she wrote "The Pioneers", which she entered into a Novel Competition. Although she didn't win the top prize of 1,000 pounds, she did win 250 pounds, which was a considerable sum in the early 1900s. Before she returned to Australia in 1915, she met Lieutenant Hugo Throssell of the 10th Light Horse. Hugo was later to become her husband and was the recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Hugo Throssell at Wandsworth Hospital

After their marriage on 29th January 1919 they moved to Greenmount, Western Australia, and lived at 11 Old York Road where Katharine for much of the rest of her life. She wrote most of her novels and stories in a self-contained weatherboard workroom near the house. In her personal life she always referred to herself as Mrs Hugo Throssell. Her friends called her Kattie. They had a son, Ric Throssell, later a diplomat and writer.

Prichard was a founding member of the Communist Party of Australia in 1921 and remained a member for the rest of her life. She worked to organise unemployed workers and founded left-wing women's groups. She campaigned in the 1930s in support of the Spanish Republic and other left-wing causes.

Her public position as a communist and a female writer saw her harassed by West Australian police and the federal government throughout her life. The official surveillance files opened on Prichard in 1919 were not closed until her death on 2nd October 1969.

She published 24 volumes of work, novels, short stories, poems and plays and the translations of her major novels and stories were in 15 foreign languages.


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