This is a paper I presented at the Association for the Study of Australian Literature conference in Perth, July 2019. The conference theme was ‘dirt’.
Literature and politics were always interacting in the life and work of Katharine Susannah Prichard. The clash and confluence of the two are both apparent in her ten week research trip to the gold-mining town of Kalgoorlie in 1941. The tensions in this moment in Australian history are suggested by the fact that much of our knowledge of Prichard’s trip is thanks to the files kept by two government agencies—one, the Commonwealth Literary Fund which was giving her money; and the other, the intelligence service which was surveilling her. The trip encompassed two forms of dirt—the ‘dirt’ of a mining industry and the ‘dirt file’ being kept on Prichard as a dangerous radical. Continue reading