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Your KS #17: Introducing “Pomona,” editor of Woman’s World

In 1909, Katharine Susannah Prichard returned from her first trip to London to take up the position of editor of “Woman’s World,” a two-page section of Melbourne’s Herald and its rural counterpart, the Weekly Times. The section featured “Topics of the Week—Feminine Affairs Reviewed—The Fashions of the Moment”. For unknown reasons, she called herself “Pomona,” the Roman goddess of fruit. She remembers it as a frantically busy time of her life. She managed to write something new about fashion each week, interview a celebrity or social reformer, and report on various items of news thought to be of interest to women. It left her very little time to write, which is one of the reasons she resigned after a year or so in the job.

Katharine is far too professional to intrude too often with overt opinions in her journalism, but sometimes Pomona does offer some gems, such as this comment on 7 August 1909: “At every dance one hears the same cry, ‘Where are the men?’ Certainly there is no lack of creatures masculine, but these are aggressively young, unbearded manlets, who consider they are conferring an honor by asking for one's programme, whilst the boredom that twenty minutes of their society entails is little worse than the ignominy of sitting out a dance by yourself, and pretending that you are frightfully tired, or that your shoe pinches.”

Katharine’s time as Pomona helped hone her skills for observation. The inspiring women she met shaped her growing political conscience. Leaving it behind gave her the time she needed to write, but it would be the last steady job she held—for the rest of her life, she was to make ends meet as a freelance journalist and then as a full-time writer and activist. The question of how to make a living and write – familiar to most members of KSP Writers’ Centre – is, of course, an old one.

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