Mansfield, Katherine

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Mansfield, Katherine

Katherine Mansfield, 1888–1923, British author, b. New Zealand, regarded as one of the masters of the short story. Her original name was Kathleen Beauchamp. A talented cellist, she did not turn to literature until 1908. Her first volume of short stories, In a German Pension (1911), was not remarkable and achieved little notice, but the stories in Bliss (1920) and The Garden Party (1922) established her as a major writer. Later volumes of stories include The Dove's Nest (1923) and Something Childish (1924; U.S. ed. The Little Girl, 1924). Her collected stories appeared in 1937. Novels and Novelists (1930) is a compilation of critical essays. After an unhappy first marriage, she married John Middleton Murry, an editor and critic, in 1918. During the last five years of her life she suffered from tuberculosis and succumbed to the disease at the age of 35. Mansfield's stories, which reveal the influence of Chekhov, are simple in form, luminous and evocative in substance. With delicate plainness they present elusive moments of decision, defeat, and small triumph. After her death Murry culled a number of books from her notebooks, editing her poems (1923, new ed. 1930), her journals (1927), her letters (1928), and a collection of unfinished pieces from her notebooks (1939).

See her letters ed. by V. O'Sullivan and M. Scott (2 vol., 1984–87) and her notebooks ed. by M. Scott (2003); biographies by J. Meyers (1980), N. Crone (1986), and C. Tomalin (1988); studies by C. Hanson, ed. (1987), G. Boddy (1988), and J. Meyers (2002).

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