WA Writer’s Websites #7: Katharine Susannah Prichard


The writers’ centre in Greenmount, KSP House, has some excellent pages devoted to its eponym. Katharine Susannah Prichard (1884-1969) is a giant of Western Australian literature.  A communist and strident critic of injustice, her work is of great literary and historical value.  (She also gave David Helfgott piano lessons, I seem to remember.)

You’ll find on the site:

  • an interesting outline of her life and work
  • a list of all her works held at the writing centre 
  • photographs of her

On the site, Bruce Bennett writes:

In her thirteen novels, five collections of stories, twelve plays and the autobiography Child of the Hurricane, (1964), Katharine Susannah Prichard has left abundant record of her often inspired attempts to express ‘the life of our people and country with love and an intense intimate sympathy’.

Coonardoo is generally recognised as one of her best works; it’s the only book of hers I’ve read, but I  recommend it.  At the time I read it, I wrote, ‘It reads to my mind like an Australian station retelling of Wuthering Heights (with a little Jane Eyre thrown in).’ A few years ago, it was named by the Australian Society of Authors as one of the best forty Australian books ever.

The writer’s centre is located in the house she lived in for much of her life.

WA Writers’ Websites #6: Nigel Gray


Nigel Gray has had a fascinating life. Visit his website and you can read his biography: 

 I spent two years travelling and working in ten European countries and was then arrested by a beautiful Greek/Irish teenage girl and an unplanned pregnancy. I became an anarchist, was involved in numerous political causes, was arrested many times, locked up on a number of occasions, and deported for political offences from four countries.

Nigel now lives in the hills of Perth. He’s written so many books in so many genres in so many countries. Unusually, he has managed to produce award winning books for both children and adults.  His last book, A Baker’s Dozen, was published two months ago and will be available from WA public libraries some time in 2008.

WA writers’ websites #4 : Shaun Tan


Shaun Tan (1974-) has become one of Western Australia’s best known illustrators and writers, especially after the amazing success of The Arrival in the last year. (He lives in Melbourne now, but I think we can still call him Western Australian.) His children’s books are that rare kind that I enjoy reading on their own terms.

His website is one of the best looking you will find, with cute black and white cartoons as buttons. Under the ‘projects’ section, you’ll find an interesting account of how he painted the two murals in the Subiaco Library.  It includes photos of him at work and of the finished artwork.

Before you go sending him an email asking ‘How did you become an artist?’ or some other question he gets asked every day, he’s provided a comprehensive FAQ

It’s a generous website, with lots of illustrations and lots of personal insight into what he does and why.

WA writers’ websites #3: John Kinsella


Harold Bloom is one of those scary old men of literature, so well read that he’s intimidating. You get the impression he thinks Shakespeare was pretty much the son of God, and that everyone should know his complete works by heart. Unfashionably, he believes there’s such a thing as Great Literature, and when you become really well-read, you can pick it.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I was amazed to find Harold Bloom himself selecting the poems for John Kinsella’s collection Peripheral Light and also writing an introduction. An endorsement from Bloom is a rare thing indeed. He’s not one to heap praise on many living writers.

And here he is endorsingJohn Kinsella, a poet who grew up in W.A.! Kinsella’s still only 44, but he’s already got a huge reputation.

His website is fascinating; it’s only a pity he hasn’t updated it since 2005. It’s got a biography and an alternative biography where he describes himself like this:

I am a vegan anarchist pacifist

(I like it when someone’s prepared to label themselves.) He’s also got interviews he’s done with interesting people like Coral Hull and Bruce Dawe; a piece of art he did and a couple of essays, including one on veganism.

There’s only a couple of poems in the poems section, but then there’s the manuscript section where he’s provided pdfs of his manuscript for Peripheral Light at two different stages, complete with his red pen editing. It’s great to have that insight into a writer’s work – I find it generous of him to put them up.

If your local public library doesn’t have Peripheral Light, it can order it in for you.

WA writers’ websites #2 : Greg Egan


 Perth is home to one of the world’s most acclaimed science-fiction writers – Greg Egan. His mind twisting novels and short stories combine intriguing scientific thought experiments and engaging writing.

My favourite is his collection of short stories Axiomatic. The pick of the collection starts with this memorable sentence:

I was six years old when my parents told me there was a small, dark jewel inside my skull, learning to be me.

The jewel or ‘dual’ is a second, identical self, non-organic and thus immortal. But the narrator starts to get anxious when it’s time to remove his physical brain and switch to the jewel.

 Egan’s website has information about his novels, links to free online editions of his stories and a bibliography.

What it doesn’t have is a photograph of the author. Indeed, I’m told the only photograph on the public record is of Egan as a child when he won an award and was in The West Australian.

Remarkably for a writer who values his privacy so much, Egan spoke out publicly over the treatment of refugees earlier this decade.

WA writers’ websites # 1: Samantha Ellen Tidy


W.A. writer Samantha Ellen Tidy has a nice-looking website about her life and writing.

Tidy was runner-up in the 2000 T.A.G. Hungerford Award for her novel Cappuccino Diva, set in Fremantle in the late 1990s. It was published in 2003 by Black Coffee Press; your local public library can order it in for you.

You can even read the opening chapters of some of her unpublished novels.