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Your KS #73 KSP Heritage items #1: ‘Grandmother’s treasure’

By Nathan Hobby

So many stories lie behind the heritage items held by the KSP Writers’ Centre, which include many books once owned by Katharine Susannah Prichard. One of these is a small, unassuming green book. It was precious enough to Katharine for her to mention it in her autobiography: ‘One of Grandmother’s treasures is no more than four inches in length and three inches across – the smallest of booklets – entitled Elizabeth or The Exiles of Siberia by Madam Cottin. And this was a dux prize when she was a schoolgirl in 1836!’ (p. 24) Sophie Cottin (1770-1807) was a French writer whose romance novels were popular in the nineteenth century. Elizabeth and other romances influenced Katharine’s early writings, including the serial A City Girl in Central Australia (1906) and The Pioneers (1915). The book is also an early connection to Russia, the country Katharine would come to regard as her second home. Katharine dearly loved her grandmother, Susan Fraser (nee Rochead). She and her family lived with her grandparents in the Melbourne suburb of a Caulfield for a time before moving nearby to a house on the same street. It’s unknown how this precious book found its way back to Katharine’s Place, but we will treasure it and make sure its significance is appreciated.

Nathan Hobby’s biography of KSP is out on 3 May -


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