Comrade Katharine Susannah Prichard

Day 211 of Colourisation Project – December 4

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Born this day, 4 December in 1883, Katharine Susannah Prichard was an Australian author, journalist, political activist and co-founding member of the Communist Party of Australia (1920) as well as one of Australia’s greatest novelists and literary figures.

Katharine Susannah Prichard

Photographer: May Moore – Katharine Susannah Prichard c1927 – Colourised by Loredana Crupi

In spite of the strong anti-communist sentiment pervading Australian politics and society before and after the second world war, Prichard remained a committed member of the Communist Party up until her death in 1969. She worked tirelessly organising unemployed workers and writing speeches and articles on behalf of the party. She delivered many public addresses on world peace and socialism, always working tirelessly for the cause.  She founded left-wing women’s groups, and during the 1930s she campaigned in support of the Spanish Republic and later for nuclear disarmament.

Her passionate activism against social injustice was critical to her early journalism and essays, and impacted on the social realism of her later short fiction. In 1915 her first published novel, The Pioneers, won the Hodder & Stoughton All Empire Novel Competition, which enabled her to write “about Australia and the realities of life for the Australian people.” It was twice made into silent films; in 1916 by Franklyn Barrett and in 1926 by Raymond Longford. Both are sadly now considered lost films.

The two major novels which brought her international acclaim were, Working Bullocks (1926), which dramatised the physical and emotional traumas of timber workers in the karri country of Australia’s south-west, and Coonardoo (1929), a tender and often poetic novel which became notorious for its candid portrayal of a relationship between a white man and a black woman in Australia’s north-west.

Nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1951, Prichard was a prolific writer; 13 novels (translated into 13 foreign languages), 10 plays, five volumes of short story collections and two volumes of poetry. In 1964 she wrote her autobiography, The Child of the Hurricane.

Prichard died at her home in Greenmount, Western Australia in 1969 at the age of 86. In a simple ceremony, her coffin was draped in the red flag of communism and her ashes later scattered on the surrounding hills.


“I think that I know thoroughly every phase of life in Australia I write of; that I absorb the life of our people and country with love and an intense and intimate sympathy; I strive to express myself from those sources … My defect as a writer is probably that I am too much of the soil. But I’d rather be that and fall from universal standards than be less the medium for expression of this place and people.”     –   Katharine Susannah Prichard

This entry was posted in Australia, Colorization, Colourisation, Literature, Photography, Women, Women in Literature, Women writers and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Comrade Katharine Susannah Prichard

  1. Nathan Hobby says:

    I was hoping you’d do KSP! I’m wring a biography of her early life. This is the first colour photo I’ve seen of her and it brings her a little more alive.


  2. Loredana Isabella Crupi says:

    Thanks Nathan, she’s certainly an interesting character! Her commitment to the cause was admirable and I look forward to reading your bio on her! 🙂


  3. Nathan Hobby says:

    Reblogged this on A Biographer in Perth and commented:
    I missed Katharine Susannah’s 131st birthday yesterday, although I did spend several hours of it in her company, deciphering her handwriting in her letters to her son, and feeling I was in her company. Thankfully Loredano at Random Phoughts marked it by selecting KSP for her remarkable daily colourisation project. Here is KSP, in colour! (It’s interesting what a distancing effect black and white photographs have. They make me so conscious of the gulf of time that separates me and the subject. Colour reminds us that the people of the past were as alive as we are.)

    Liked by 1 person

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