# 41670

WATSON, Kathleen

[QUEENSLAND] Autograph signature of Anglo-Australian novelist, short-story writer and poet Kathleen Watson.

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Cut signature, manuscript in ink on paper, 60 x 100 mm; identified in another hand below as ‘Writer’; light toning, otherwise fine.

Bold autograph signature of Kathleen Watson Dearden, a significant figure on the Australian literary scene – particularly in Melbourne and Brisbane – in the first quarter of the twentieth century.

Provenance: Autograph album compiled by Jane Emma Murphy (Balcombe) (1854-1924), “The Briars”, Mornington, Victoria; à Beckett family, Melbourne, by descent.

The following obituary for Kathleen Watson Dearden appeared in the Brisbane Courier, 10 May 1926:

‘DEATH OF MRS. W. DEARDEN. The death is announced of Mrs. William Dearden, familiarly known by the literary world by her maiden name of Kathleen Watson. Mrs. Dearden had for some months suffered from the effect of a heart strain, but it was hoped that, with, complete rest, there would be a recovery. However, a few weeks ago more serious developments occurred, and recently Mrs. Dearden entered St. Martin’s Hospital. Within the past week her condition became critical, and at noon yesterday she went upon the long journey. Mrs. Dearden has been a resident of Queensland for something over 15 years, Mr. Dearden having large timber interests in the State, first as manager for Millar’s Karri and Jarrah Co., later as the head of the Queensland Pine Co., and now of the Nerang Hardwood Co. Mrs. Dearden was born in England, the daughter of a well known medical man, but was educated mainly on the Continent, and particularly in France. Her family was linked up with the British Army, and her brother, Colonel Watson, of the Army Medical Corps, visited Queensland at the close of the Great War, having served many years in India. Kathleen Watson’s first big success in literature was with “Litanies of Life,” published in London. This little volume attracted immediate attention, and Mr. T. P. O’Connor, M.P., deviated a page of his weekly review to what he termed “the book of the month.” Later the authoress married Mr. Dearden, and, with her husband, spent some time in travel, notably on the coast of Northern Africa, which was the scene of her next work, a novel entitled “The Gaiety of Fatma.” By most readers this is considered Mrs. Dearden’s finest work, and it had a very cordial reception, though there was in it the sad tone which has been characteristic of her books. In Australia was produced, mainly with a Victorian venue, “The House of Broken Dreams,” beautifully written, and with much depth of study and reasoning from the woman’s point of view. It was ineffably sad, so sad, indeed, that one well-known reviewer, borrowing the phrase from the “Sartor Resartus,” termed it “A Sanctuary of Sorrow.” In Australia was also written “Later Litanies,” which had all the literary beauty, an incomparable artistry, as T. P. O’Connor said of the first book. In the Southern States, and especially in Melbourne and Adelaide, Mrs. Dearden had wide circles of readers and wide circles of friends. “Henriette Says” was the title of a series of short articles originating in the “Courier,” and now obtainable as collected and edited in a small book form. The sayings of Henriette were those of a French girl married to an Australian “Digger,” and living her new life with him in this land. Their brave philosophy and great literary charm made them very popular and they have all the brightness of the heart of a Frenchwoman happily and devotedly linked up with Australia. These letters are a blend of humour, bright appreciation of and bravery in new and rough surroundings, and with just a little wistfuluess in the reflections upon Henriette’s native land. Mrs. Dearden was well known in Brisbane literary circles and socially. A cheery, cultured and charitable woman with a wide view of the world and its problems, and intensely sympathetic. Those who knew her best loved her most. When General Pau was in Queensland his happiest hours were with the country people, with Mrs Dearden as guide, mentor, and friend, and interpreter also, for she spoke French as a Parisian. Much of her nature had the French vivacity and general temperament, and that was not surprising since, as a little child, she had shared the privations of the siege of Paris and heard the German guns thundering on the wider environs. Mrs. Dearden leaves her husband, a son (Mr. Charles Dearden) who is with Mr. Allan Wilkie in South Australia at present, and Miss Irma Dearden, who was called back from a holiday stay in Melbourne on account of the illness of her mother. Many friends in the Southern States, as in Queensland will sincerely mourn the passing of one who sought to interpret sweeter things and whose genius saw much happy development in the atmosphere of family life.’