Author Nathan Hobby has just won the Premier's Prize for Book of the Year for his book titled 'The Red Witch': Biography of Katherine Sussanah Prichard.
Katherine was a notable local woman who was controversial in many ways. She was a champion of the disadvantaged, a highly respected journalist and a prolific author. She was a founding member of the Communist Party of Australia as a result of her experience in war time London.
Katherinne and Hugo in London 1916
Katherine met her husband VC winner Lt Hugo Throssell while in London, married in 1919 after which they both returned to WA and lived in "Megalong Cottage' Greenmount. Hugo had periods of melancholy and these combined with some bad business decisions which caused debt and shattered his optimism, he thought he could better provide for his wife and 11 year old son if they received the war widows pension.
Hugo and another man at Hugo's Lazy Hit Ranch
He shot himself on 19 November 1933 at Greenmount. We now know that he was probably suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his time at war. Today with the right help, he may have had a better outcome. Unfortunately many soldiers were left to deal with the horrors of war by themselves which resulted in alcohol and other substance abuse issues. Even though today there is more help for those with mental health problems and certainly more recognition, it is still woefully inadequate and more services are needed. Hugo was buried with full military honours in the Anglican section of Karrakatta cemetery, Perth.
Author Nathan Hobby spent a number of years researching this biography. Judges comments included:
" Through meticulous archival research and historical detective work, Nathan Hobby reveals many unknown aspects of Prichard's life, including the identity of the mysterious lover who deeply influenced her in her twenties, her withdrawal from politics during remarkable five-year literary peak and an intimate friendship with poet Hugh McCrae. Lively and detailed, The Red Witch is a gripping narrative alert to the drama and tragedy of Prichard's remarkable life."
As a memorial to Hugo Throssell, a granite shelter was erected on the corner of Great Eastern Hwy and Old York Road Greenmount.
Dedication ceremony of Hugo Throssell VC Memorial Octagonal Gazebo, Greenmount.