Tag Archives: World War One

70k, and the war just beginning

The word count of my biography just hit 70,000, so I thought I’d pause to celebrate with this blog post. It’s a nice milestone, but it’s not altogether welcome. The paragraph I’m on concerns the outbreak of the Great War, so I’m in August 1914, which means I have 4.5 years to go, and the original aim was for an 80,000 word biography.

Back at the end of August I set a plan to write a chapter a month, taking me to the end of the biography during 2017. I’ve been meeting my targets, but I’ve become painfully aware of how naive my plan was. The years I’m writing about in Katharine’s life have proven to throw up far more intriguing stories, characters and events than I anticipated. A good problem to have, I realise. I’ve already added two chapters, and I expect to have to keep adding them.

Writers often get obsessed by word counts and I think it can be a trap; words are cheap, quality words are hard. But it’s a balancing act: measuring, celebrating output can be a necessary and powerful incentive along the way and I feel my ambitious and naive targets have energised me. So far. Most days.

Hugo Throssell and Katharine Susannah Prichard in the shadow of the Great War

A speech for “Katharine’s Birthday,” Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre, Sunday 6 December 2015

In London a hundred years ago Katharine Susannah Prichard met Hugo Throssell in the shadow of World War I. The war brought them together and cost them both so dearly. The Great War radicalised them, leading them to reject militarism and the system which had caused such a disaster. Continue reading

Katharine and Hugo in the shadow of the Great War: speech on Sunday

Anzac Crusader to marry Australian novelist

It’s a hundred years ago on Friday since King George V decorated Katharine Susannah Prichard’s future husband, Hugo Throssell, with a Victoria Cross, Western Australia’s first. To mark the occasion, I’ve been asked to give a speech at Katharine’s Birthday, the annual end-of-year celebration at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre, alongside Chris Horvath, a specialist on the 10th Light Horse. It’s an interesting assignment for a pacifist like me. Continue reading

The goldfields during the Great War and the aftermath: Katharine Susannah Prichard’s Golden Miles


Golden Miles (1946), the second in Katharine Susannah Prichard’s goldfields trilogy, spans 1914 to 1927 in the Western Australian goldfields, from the eve of World War One to the eve of the Great Depression. Sally Gough is the central character even more clearly than in The Roaring Nineties, and the rather untidy narrative takes her through a series of trials, with Paddy Cavan the nemesis lurking close to many of her misfortunes. At the beginning of the novel, she kicks him out of her boarding house for his gold stealing racket. He promises she will pay a high price; in one sense, the rest of the novel proves him true, even if he is only minimally directly responsible. The other way to sum up the disparate happenings of the novel is as the tales of the fate of Sally’s four sons coming to adulthood, each representing a different way of living in the world. All of this is against a bigger backdrop, as Sally’s son, Tom, reflects: “There were those sinister forces outside Sally, her home and her sons, always threatening the security of the small fort she had built for herself. No one lived alone in a world where war, disease and the ruthless struggle for wealth and power, swept thousands of little people like her into the maelstrom of economic and national crises.” (99)

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