Only a handful of Katharine’s notebooks survive. One of them is the ‘Ti-tree journal’, and has pages of angst poured out over her storm of feelings about Guido Baracchi while staying among the ti-trees near Black Rock, Melbourne, in 1916. Most of the others are detailed notes she took on her trips to research her novels. They don’t make for easy reading and aren’t obvious to use in a biography, although they do show how she worked. She would write down slabs of dialogue, nomenclature, little word sketches of scenes. A lot of it just didn’t make sense to me. There are a few gems though, including a key at the back of her Pioneers notebook where she specifies what she has renamed each of the towns in Gippsland for the novel. And then there’s the revelations from a notebook in 1929. What seems to be a transcription of the final letter from her mysterious lover, the Preux Chevalier, probably copied out in her notebook to keep it secret while preserving it. A draft of a letter to an Australian poet whom she had grown very close to. She writes to him from the beach at Rockingham describing events she fictionalised in the novel Intimate Strangers. It took years to work out what I was looking at, but it did all finally come together when I found the final, sent version in that poet’s archives. You can read about that in chapter 24 of The Red Witch, ‘The Mirage is Breaking Up’.
An A to Z of Katharine Susannah Prichard: N is for… NOTEBOOKS
21 Friday Oct 2022
Posted Series: A-Z of Katharine Susannah Prichardin
Trevor Todd said:
Thanks Nathan. Fascinating.
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