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.
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.