By Jeannine Baker
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Extra resources for Australian Women War Reporters: Boer War to Vietnam
By-lines were not common practice in quality Australian newspapers until after World War II, and women journalists were even less likely than men to be identified by their real name. Despite their comparative invisibility in the historical record, however, Australian women were entering journalism in increasing numbers in the decades leading up to World War II. The frequent assertion that journalists were born, not made, was usually applied only to men – women journalists to some extent have always been considered anomalous.
When war broke out, ‘foolhardy and eager for experience’, Prichard proposed to a newspaper editor that the paper send her to Serbia as a war correspondent, but he refused: ‘It takes a strong man to weather a Balkan campaign. You couldn’t. ’ Prichard’s argument that a woman war correspondent had ‘news value’ failed to change his mind. After her services as a horsewoman for the women’s auxiliary services were also declined, she just ‘went on with journalism’. In December 1914 she travelled to Wimereux, close to the front near Boulogne in France, to report for the Australian press on Lady Rachel Dudley’s Australian Voluntary Hospital (AVH), which was staffed and funded by Australians.
56 She enjoyed the support of the influential literary editor of the Bulletin, AG Stephens, who published her poetry collection Dreams in Flower in 1901. By 1900 Mack’s marriage to barrister John Creed was failing due to his bankruptcy and heavy drinking, and in April 1901 she boarded a ship for London. 57 But it was tough for outsiders to gain a foothold in Fleet Street at the turn of the century. Before long Mack was struggling to pay for necessities and living in an attic in Bloomsbury, where she nonetheless managed to finish a novel called An Australian Girl in London (1902).