This month is my book’s first birthday and I’m marking the occasion with some posts throughout May offering random glimpses of Katharine Susannah Prichard.

May Day brings to mind a passage in a letter Katharine wrote in 1956 to Mikhail Apletin, who worked for the Union of Soviet Writers in Russia:

‘To-day, I am sad, because I wanted to go to the celebrations of May Day in Fremantle, but friends who were to drive me could not go, and so I have spent the day alone in my wild hills. Writing to you and Oksana is a consolation. Our winter is beginning and torrents of rain have been falling.’

I find it a poignant image of old age. She is 72, and despite her fame she finds herself alone in her cabin in the rain. Greenmount was an isolated place to live for a woman without a car.

That same year, she published the pamphlet Why I Am A Communist, based on some newspaper columns she had written; Jeff Sparrow calls it ‘a gesture of loyalty to the Stalinist regime, at a time when the faith of many loyal Communist Party members was being shaken to the core’.