Katharine Susannah Prichard’s “A City Girl in Central Australia”

For several months now, it’s been 1905 for me. In May of that year, at the age of twenty-one, Katharine Susannah Prichard set out to work for six months as a governess for the Quin family at the Tarella Station in far-western New South Wales. It was a critical season in Katharine’s life.

Source: Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre – home | Your KS #11: “A City Girl in Central Australia”

My June column for the KSP Writers’ Centre is now on their blog. It’s about Katharine’s fascinating and largely forgotten serial “A City Girl in Central Australia” or “Letters from the Back o’ Beyond”. I’ve ordered in the microfilm of the magazine it first appeared in and next week I’m reading it again. (So far I’ve been reading it from my photographs of the clippings in Katharine’s papers.) It’s also going to be the subject of a paper I’m giving at the UWA Limina Conference at the end of July – “Boundary-rider: the early Katharine Susannah Prichard on the edge of fiction and autobiography”.


About Nathan Hobby

At work on a biography of Katharine Susannah Prichard for a PhD at the University of Western Australia. Also a novelist and librarian. View all posts by Nathan Hobby

6 responses to “Katharine Susannah Prichard’s “A City Girl in Central Australia”

  • Lisa Hill

    I’ve commented on the KP blog, but I’ll paste it here too:

    Oh, I do hope that authors still keep scrapbooks today! Such a wonderful resource for researchers, but also fascinating to anyone who takes a serious interest in books and writing even if not in a scholarly way. (I love the exhibition in the British Library which showcases everything from Austen’s drafts to John Lennon’s Imagine on the back of an envelope.)
    Has Project Gutenberg Australia uploaded City Girl?


    • Nathan Hobby

      I agree! In this case, I’m not sure if I conveyed it quite right in describing it as a ‘scrapbook’ – it is a blank, brown paper booklet which she pasted only the City Girl clippings into. So it doesn’t give any wider insights into her working, but it does show she was trying to get it republished. A couple of commonplace books of hers also survive – very valuable.
      New Idea – the magazine which published City Girl – hasn’t been digitised. It would be a treasure for Australian cultural history, as it published a wide range of material. The first part of City Girl was included by Delys Bird in her 2000 KSP collection for UQP Australian Authors.


  • wadholloway

    I took the time to check Tarella on google maps. NNW of Wilcannia but no, not far enough north to be considered ‘near Tibooburra’ as I originally thought.
    I saw your post on facebook -I’m friends with KSP! – and I guess you’re right about City Girl being immature, but with so many novels starting as serials at that time it must still have been a thrill to see it in print, and maybe a book editor would have got her to polish it up a bit.


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