1969 screen cap

It’s the fiftieth anniversary of Katharine Susannah Prichard’s death on 2 October 2019. The KSP Writers’ Centre is commemorating with some special events. Louise Helfgott has written a play about the friendship between her brother, David, and Katharine, and it’s being performed a number of times over the week. One of the performances is on Sunday 6 October as part of a full day program, “The Colours of Katharine: Red Witch or Lavender Lady?” at Katharine’s old house in Greenmount.

I’ll be giving a speech at 10:10am:

10.10 AM    Katharine Susannah Until the End: KSP in 1969. Special guest talk by Nathan Hobby.

Katharine Susannah Prichard had begun to seem frailly invincible by 1969, the year she died. Having survived a stroke and published a novel in her eighties, she was still writing, still hosting visitors from around the world, and still keeping up her keen interest in world affairs. In this talk, her biographer Nathan Hobby traces the final stage of Katharine’s life through her weekly letters to her son, Ric, giving a picture of her daily life at 11 Old York Road Greenmount, as well as reflecting on the meaning of death for a biographer.

After that, Katharine’s granddaughter, Karen Throssell, will be launching the commemorative anthology from the competition earlier this year. I selected the fiction and non-fiction pieces and there’s some great work in it, adding up to a fascinating mosaic of Katharine, Hugo Throssell, and the mythology around them.

I’m also looking forward to a talk by Dylan Hyde about his new book:

12.30 PM    Book talk with Dylan Hyde: Art Was Their Weapon: the History of the Perth Workers’ Art Guild (Fremantle Press, 2019)

The Workers’ Art Guild was a radical cultural and political force in Perth in the 1930s and 1940s, embracing new ideas in a provincial, isolated city. The Guild’s innovative approaches to theatre and art were praised by critics, but its left-wing politics, influenced by the Communist Party of Australia, were denounced by many. Police and intelligence officers kept close tabs on the Guild, censoring its activities and intimidating and jailing its members in the lead-up to World War II.

Through the lives of its key players, such as writer Katharine Susannah Prichard and theatre maverick Keith George, Art Was Their Weapon illuminates a fascinating era in Western Australian history.

The full program is here. I’m thrilled KSP Writers’ Centre has gone to such lengths to mark the occasion; for anyone interested in Katharine Susannah Prichard, it will be fascinating.