The Red Witch Nathan Hobby talks about his biography of Katharine Susannah Prichard


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State Library Theatre - Ground Floor

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Join author Nathan Hobby and Battye Historian Dr Kate Gregory as they discuss the remarkable life of novelist, journalist and activist Katherine Susannah Prichard.

Katharine Susannah Prichard found fame for her vivid novels that broke new ground depicting distinctly Australian ways of life and work - from Gippsland pioneers and West Australian prospectors to Pilbara station hands and outback opal miners. Her prize-winning debut The Pioneers made her a celebrity but she turned away from jaunty romances to write a trio of inter-war classics, Working BullocksCoonardoo and Haxby's Circus. Heralded in her time as the 'hope of the Australian novel', her good friend Miles Franklin called Prichard 'Australia's most distinguished tragedian'.

The biography of a literary Red Witch traces Prichard's journey from the genteel poverty of her Melbourne childhood to her impulsive marriage to Hugo Throssell (awarded a Victoria Cross) and finally on to her long widowhood as a 'red witch', marked out from society by her loyalty to the Soviet Union and her unconventional ways.

Dr Nathan Hobby is a Perth author, librarian and honorary research fellow at UWA. His book The Red Witch: A Biography of Katharine Susannah Prichard expands on his PhD thesis about her early life. Hobby won the TAG Hungerford Award for his novel The Fur (Fremantle Press, 2004). He blogs at

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This page last updated on 3 May 2022