Professor Stephen Hoyle
Academic Writing Class
The biography of Katherine Mansfield
Katherine Mansfield was born into the household of a rich merchant and banker in Wellington, New Zealand in 1988, her family was a socially prominent middle class colonial family with a banker father, Harold Beauchamp, and a genteel origin mother, Annie Burnell Dyer. She had two older sisters and a younger brother; she was also the first cousin of author Countess Elizabeth von Arnim (“Katherine Mansfield”).
The Beauchamp family moved to Karori in 1893, a rural village in the hills a few miles from Wellington, where Mansfield would spend the happiest years of her childhood. Later she published her first text at the age of nine (Kirkpatrick 12).
In the 1903, as the first step in her rebellion against her background, she left for London to study at Queen’s College, along with her two sisters, and she became a member of the college magazine. She stayed there for three years and after that she went back to New Zealand in 1906. She then started to become interested in music and had relationships with men as well as women. Her father denied her the opportunity to become a professional cellist, but later on she became an accomplished cellist. In 1908, she entered Wellington Technical College to study typing and bookkeeping (Kirkpatrick 14).
... abundant of various stylistic means, so typical of Katherine Mansfield’s prose. Thus, I’d like to pay ... can be said about the members of his family, who are described rather one-sidedly. This ... ’ carelessness. The episode describing the way the family treated the hero when he returned home from ... work with the bitter depiction of marital and family relationships of her middle-class characters, as well ...
After that her lifelong friend Ida Baker persuading Mansfield’s father to allow her to move back to England with an allowance of ￡100per year. There she devoted herself to writing and had her mind set on becoming a professional writer. (Books and writers.com) In later years, she would express both admiration and disdain for New Zealand in her journals and never visited New Zealand again (“Katherine Mansfield”).
In 1909, she married George Bowen, a singing teacher 11years her elder, whom she left a few days after the wedding. Before that marriage she had a relationship with Garnett Trowell, a musician, and became pregnant by him, but disapproval by Trowell’s parents caused the two to break up, she went to Bavaria, Germany, staying there for a year. During her stay there, she suffered a miscarriage and lost her child. Also during that time she wrote satirical sketches of German characters entitled as In a German Pension. (Kirkpatrick 16)Mansfield’s time in Bavaria was to have a significant effect on her literary outlook. She was introduced to the works of Anton Chekhov, a Russian writer who proved to have greater influence upon her writing in a short tern than Oscar Wilde, on whom she been fixated during her earlier years (“Katherine Mansfield”).
In 1910, Mansfield went back to London, but she was suffering froman untreated sexually transmitted disease which destroyed her health and made her weak for the rest of her life. (Books and writers.com)She became a much more complex person ‘sexually reckless and socially excitable, temperamentally damaged by illness and as malicious and chilling as she could be appealing and vulnerable’ (“Biograophy”).
She participated in literary parties without much enthusiasm. (Books and writers.com) She once complained: “Pretty rooms and pretty people, pretty coffee, and cigarettes out of a silver tankard…I was wretched”(qtd, in Books and writers.com).
In 1911, Mansfield met John Middleton Murry, a Socialist and former literary critic, who was first a tenant in her flat and then became her lover. The relationship that would culminate in their marriage in 1918.They had a troubled life during this time because in October 1912, the publisher of the magazine edited by Murry, Stephen Swift, absconded to Europe, and left Murry responsible for the debts the magazine had accumulated. Mansfield pledged her father’s allowance towards it (“Katherine Mansfield”).
... am not married. During the first year of my relationship with a female I find myself very ... intimate with my partner, and when the second year ... fable that is presented in "Sex and Relationships" about the president and his wife successfully illustrates ... The fable shows that sometimes people involved in relationships tend to lose that "sexual interest" in ...
During World War I, she traveled restlessly between England and France. In 1915, she contacted her brother, Chummie. Affected by his sudden death in the war, Mansfiled started to wrote stories mainly about New Zealand and her family. ‘Prelude’ (1916), one of her most famous stories, was written during this period. In 1918 Mansfield divorced her first husband and married John Murry. In the same year, she was also diagnosed with tuberculosis ( Murry 15).
Mansfield and Murry had a very good relationship with DH. Lawrence and his wife Frieda. After she found out that her husband had had an affair with Princess Bidesco, she did not make any protest (Kirkpatrick 16) However, in a letter to Bibesco, she wrote: “I am afraid you must stop writing these love letters to my husband while he and I living together, It is one of those thing which is not done in our world.”(qtd. in Writers and Books.com )
In the last five years of Mansfield’s life – even after their marriage – the Murrys lived apart most time and communicated by letter. They could keep better relationship in this way. When they lived together, their attempts at intimacy always failed when the reality of their relationship could not bear to compare with the ideal intimacy they created in their letters. Both of them are unfaithful, but they kept the relationship as they were the only left survivors of a nature disaster. For ten years, until Katherine’s death, they wrote to each other almost every day and both kept detailed journals. (“Katherine Mansfield”)
Mansfield spent her last years in southern France and in Switzerland. As a part of her treatment in 1922 at an institute, Mansfield had to spend a few hours every day on a platform suspended over a cow manger. She breathed odors emanating from below but the treatment did no good. Without the company of her literary friends, family, or her husband, she wrote much about her own roots and her childhood. Mansfield died of a pulmonary hemorrhage on January 9, 1923, in Gurdjieff Institute, near Fontainebleau, France. Her last words were: “I love the rain. I want the feeling of it on my face.” (Writers and books.com)
... derivative writer -- vastly overrated.' Or, as Tobias Wolff wrote, admiringly, in the introduction to 'The Best American Short Stories of ... night? Nothing Carver himself didn't already identify and write in his stories for us: ambivalence, insecurity, ambition, need, ... of the great, dreary American suburban wastelands and wrote beautiful, sad stories in clipped, stripped prose. The minimalism and ...
Mansfield’s first volume of short stories, In a German Pension, was not famous and achieved little notice, but the stories in Bliss (1920) and The Garden Party( 1922) established her as a great writer. Later volumes of stories include The Dove’s nest (1923) and Something Childish (1924; U.S.edition. The little Girl, 1924).
Her collected stories appeared in 1937(Murry 50).
“Novels and Novelists (1930) is a compilation of critical essays”(Murry 50)
‘Life and work are one thing indivisible,’ she wrote, and for her it was true. Mansfield was a passionate woman who dared to live outside the strict code decreed for young women at her time, and who did not deserve the cruelty punishment of her life. She lived as a free spirit, loving both men and women, risking everything and paying a tragic price for freedoms. (“Biography”) In terms of career, just as she said once “I am a writer and a woman after” (qtd.In Murry 76).
She made great achievements in the field of literary and she was regarded as one of the masters of the short story. She was greatly influenced by Anton Chekhov, sharing her warm humanity and attention to the small details of human behavior and his short stories are also famous for using stream of consciousness. The influence she left upon the development of short story as a form of literature was quite notable. (Murry 78)
“Biography” Katherine Mansfield.net (18th May,2009)
books and writers.com (18th May,2009)
Kirkpatrick, BJ, Biography of Katherine Mansfield. Boston: Harvard University Press, 1990.
Murry J.M. The autobiography of John Middleton Murry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1936.
“Katherine Mansfield” Wikipedia.org (18th May,2009)