Honouring: Katharine Susannah Prichard

Critiquing the work of Katharine Susannah Prichard

As part of re-examining Prichard’s legacy, this conversation between Wiradjuri writer and academic Dr Jeanine Leane and editor, linguist, and author Jacqueline Wright critically considers Prichard’s 1929 novel Coonardoo, and its place within a broader context of how First Nations peoples have been portrayed in their colonisers’ stories.

Texts mentioned in the conversation:

‘Other People’s Stories’ by Jeanine Leane, for Overland Journal, 225 Summer 2016.

‘On ‘Coonardoo’, by Katharine Susannah Prichard’ by Jacqueline Wright, for Griffith Review. Edition 71, January 2021.

‘2004 Clare Burton Memorial Lecture – Law stories and life stories: Aboriginal women, the Law and Australian Society’, by Larrissa Berendt in Australian Feminist Studies Vol. 20, issue 47, 2005.

‘What happens when you tell somebody else’s story?’ by Alexis Wright for Meanjin, Summer 2016.

‘Subjects of the imagination: on dropping the settler pen’ by Jeanine Leane, for Overland Journal, December 2018.

‘Tracking our Country in Settler Literature’ by Jeanine Leane. Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, Vol. 14, no 3, 2014.

Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko. UQP, 2013.

The Cultural Interface‘ by Professor Martin Nakata. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, vol 36, 2007.

The Distribution of Settlement: Appropriation and Refusal in Australian Literature and Culture by Michael R. Griffiths. UWAP, 2018.

maar bidi: next generation black writing, edited by Elfie Shiosaki and Linda Martin. Magabala Books, 2020.

Living on Stolen Land, by Ambelin Kwaymullina. Magabala Books, 2020.

Throat, by Ellen van Neerven. UQP, 2020.

If you’re keen to hear more about the ethics of writing about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, listen to this Speaking Out episode from ABC, where Melissa Lucashenko, Jacqueline Wright and Dr Anita Heiss discuss the issue at a Brisbane Writers Festival panel, On Whose Authority? in 2013.

First Nations reading list

‘Read our books…that’s one way that everyone can be proactive’ – Dr Jeanine Leane

BlackWords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Writers and Storytellers a bibliography on AustLit maintained by a national team led first by Anita Heiss then by Jeanine Leane, since 2007.

Anita Heiss, Anita’s Black Book Challenge (BBC) 23 April 2011.

Anita Heiss, 20 reasons you should read Blak, part of a keynote address Heiss delivered at the inaugural Blak and Bright Festival, February 19 2016.

Anita Heiss, Anita’s Black Book Challenge #3. 16 May 2016.

Karen Wyld, ‘Sovereign People, Sovereign Stories | Five Books by First Nations Writers’ for IndigenousX. 29 August 2018.

NAIDOC week 2019: Fifteen must-read books by Aboriginal Australians from Cockburn Libraries, 2019.

Anita Heiss, Nita’s NAIDOC Reads, 9 November 2020.

50 great reads from First Nations writers & Australian writers of colour in 2020. Readings Book Store, November 2020.

Tara June Winch, Tara June Winch on reclaiming language and writing fiction, for Writing NSW, July 2020.

Organisations that publish First Nations works:


Jeanine Leane is a Wiradjuri writer, poet and academic from south-west New South Wales. Jeanine has published widely in the area of Aboriginal literature, writing otherness and creative non-fiction.  Jeanine was the recipient of the University of Canberra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Poetry Prize, and she has won the Oodgeroo Noonucal Prize for Poetry twice. Her second volume of poetry, Walk Back Over was released in 2018 by Cordite Press. She was the 2019 recipient of the Red Room Poetry Fellowship for her project called Voicing the Unsettled Space: Rewriting the Colonial Mythscape. Jeanine teaches Creative Writing and Aboriginal Literature at the University of Melbourne and is the recipient of two Australian Research Council (ARC) Fellowships. In 2020 Jeanine edited Guwayu – for all times – a collection of First Nations Poetry commissioned by Red Room Poetry and published by Magabala Books.

Jacqueline Wright worked for over 20 years as a teacher/linguist in WA’s remote north-west on Australian Aboriginal language, interpreting and cultural programs. She has also worked as an editor at an independent Indigenous publishing house, Magabala Books and as a radio producer for ABC Kimberley in Broome. Her first novel, Red Dirt Talking, won the 2010 TAG Hungerford Award and was longlisted for the 2013 Miles Franklin and Dobbie literary awards. Jacqueline has a Creative Arts Doctorate from Curtin University where she wrote about the ethics of representing Indigenous knowledges and subjectivities in works of fiction. She has since published short stories and creative non-fiction pieces in various publications. She is currently working on her second novel, Beauty and Menace.

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