Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 30, 2022

Your invitation to the Online launch of The Red Witch: A Biography of Katharine Susannah Prichard

Exciting news!

If you scroll down at the bottom of this press release, you will see that the host for this online launch of Nathan Hobby’s long-awaited The Red Witch: A Biography of Katharine Susannah Prichard is Yours Truly.  It’s a real honour and I am thrilled to bits because the book is going to be launched by Karen Throssell, poet, memoirist and granddaughter of Katharine Susannah Prichard, along with Dr Nathan Hollier, CEO of Melbourne University Publishing as speaker.

In an interview at The Guardian at the time of his appointment as CEO, Dr Hollier said that he hoped to…

…“publish books that will address the important issues of our society, and will last the test of time as important contributions to our public life”.

“I very much hope to publish for a broad audience and fulfil the traditional brief of a university press to publish books of scholarly grounding that reach people beyond the university,” he said.

That ambition tells us that Nathan’s is an important book, eh?

If you live in Perth, of course, you can attend the in-person launch on the evening of Monday 9 May, but most of us who have been waiting (im)patiently for this bio of one of my favourite authors live elsewhere.

For us, there is an online launch through Google Meet on the official publication day, Tuesday 17 May. To join in, click on the link below – it’s a video call like Zoom.  (You don’t need to install anything.)

I would love to (literally) see some of my readers at this launch so please put the date in your diary now, and share this invitation with others who are interested the story of an Australian literary giant.

This is the Press Release for The Red Witch, courtesy of Holly Hendry-Saunders at MUP.

Novelist, journalist and activist Katharine Susannah Prichard won fame for vivid novels that broke new ground depicting distinctly Australian ways of life and work—from Gippsland pioneers and West Australian prospectors to Pilbara station hands and outback opal miners. Her prize-winning debut The Pioneers made her a celebrity but she turned away from jaunty romances to write a trio of inter-war classics, Working Bullocks, Coonardoo and Haxby’s Circus. Heralded in her time as the ‘hope of the Australian novel’, her good friend Miles Franklin called Prichard ‘Australia’s most distinguished tragedian’.

This biography of a literary giant traces Prichard’s journey from the genteel poverty of her Melbourne childhood to her impulsive marriage to Victoria Cross winner Hugo Throssell, and finally on to her long widowhood as a ‘red witch’, marked out from society by her loyalty to the Soviet Union and her unconventional ways.

Through meticulous archival research and historical detective work, Nathan Hobby reveals many unknown
aspects of Prichard’s life, including the likely identity of the mysterious lover who influenced her deeply in her
twenties, her withdrawal from politics during her remarkable five-year literary peak and an intimate friendship
with poet Hugh McCrae. Lively and detailed, The Red Witch is a gripping narrative alert to the drama and tragedy of Prichard’s remarkable life.

Nathan Hobby is a Perth author, librarian and honorary research fellow at the University of Western Australia. His novel The Fur (Fremantle Press 2004) won the TAG Hungerford Award. He blogs at which is how I came to discover KSP and her remarkable novels.  (Five so far, and I hope to have read the last in her Goldfields Trilogy by the time of the launch.)

Online launch – The Red Witch: A Biography of Katharine Susannah Prichard
Tuesday, 17 May 8:00pm AEST (6:00pm AWST)
Video call link:

Please join Nathan Hobby to celebrate the publication of
The Red Witch: A Biography of Katharine Susannah Prichard (Miegunyah Press).
If possible, wear something red!
You may wish to drink a glass of dry sherry (Katharine’s favourite drink) or whatever else takes your fancy.

The book will be launched by Karen Throssell, poet, memoirist and granddaughter of Katharine Susannah Prichard.
Host: Lisa Hill, ambassador for Australian literature and ANZ Litlovers blogger
Speaker: Dr Nathan Hollier, CEO of Melbourne University Publishing
Finishing with questions and discussion.


  1. Well, I hope this means her novels might be brought back into print because so many of them seem not to be available. I borrowed Coonardoo from the library and have managed to locate two ebooks, which I then had to faff around trying to convert to Kindle-friendly files, but that’s it.

    Good luck with hosting the launch. The time difference won’t work for me, but maybe I’ll get to go to the in-person Perth launch…


    • I hope it does too. All mine are second-hand: a first edition of The Roaring Nineties from The Australasian Publishing Co (1946), and the other two of the Goldfields trilogy are 1980s Virago editions; an A&R Classic edition of Haxby’s Circus (2013); Coonardoo was from Pacific Books (Angus & Robertson, 1961) and a A&U House of Books edition of The Black Opal (2012), was borrowed from the library.
      It took a bit of searching, but I found this page at which says some of them are available from A&R for ‘special order’ (which means Print on Demand, I think), see, and at A&U’s House of Books ( you can find three of them if you search using KSP’s full name. Bizarrely they have two not all three of the trilogy…

      Liked by 1 person

      • That will be their print-on-demand editions I think. I bought an Astley. They are perfectly fine but have margins too tiny for us marginalians!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I could not be more excited! I have a red scarf, easy access to a sherry and lots of enthusiasm. It is in my diary (in bold and highlighted).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay, you are my first RSVP! And it will be so good to see you!


      • Looking forward to seeing you too Lisa. I’m not familiar with anything other than Zoom for these things. Should I click that link now or just connect on the night?


        • I’ve never used it myself, I’ve only ever used Zoom and Skype … as far as I can tell you just copy that link and it will open up on the night. I’m not sure what might happen if you clicked it now, but I’m having a pre-launch confab with Nathan beforehand, and will ask him.

          Liked by 1 person

          • How exciting Lisa. Well done.

            Do you think they will record the session. That is slap bang in the middle of my yoga night and I really don’t like to miss it if it’s on, but it isn’t always on …


            • I don’t know about recording… I can ask.
              But I’d much rather you were there!


              • Oh, I really would too … we’ll see. I just hate to bail out of yoga if I’m in town … class across the road, run free of charge by my (yoga teacher qualified) lovely neighbour for just a handful of people. I don’t like to take her or it for granted because I’m so lucky to have it!


          • I have to confess I haven’t used Google Meet before either! But it lets us go for 60 minutes and have 100 people. I think it will be very similar to zoom, but we will test


            • *gasp* 100 people! We may have to set up a ballot for the questions, eh?


              • Maybe! We’ll take 100 as an aspiration and be happy with 20 or 30 I think…


                • I’m thinking of buying a red hat…


  3. Count me in!

    Liked by 1 person

    • At last we will meet!


      • Yes :-) Kind of, from afar, in the way of things these days. I’m looking forward to celebrating Nathan’s work.


        • I am too. I had been hoping to fly over for the bricks-and-mortar launch, but I can’t get my winter booster in time so this is the next best thing.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Of course I’ll go to the launch if I can, but work is always unpredictable. Congratulations on the hosting gig, I hope the technology goes well.


  5. Bookmarking this event/post and would love to attend online :-)


  6. […] “Please join Nathan Hobby to celebrate the publication ofThe Red Witch: A Biography of Katharine Susannah Prichard (Miegunyah Press).If possible, wear something red!You may wish to drink a glass of dry sherry (Katharine’s favourite drink) or whatever else takes your fancy.” Lisa Hill (here) […]


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