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Katherine Mansfield

Short Story Writer, Poet

Country:New Zealand

Lifetime: 1888 - 1923 Passed: ≈ 100 years ago

Kathleen Mansfield Murry was a prominent modernist writer who was born and brought up in New Zealand. She wrote short stories and poetry under the pen name Katherine Mansfield. When she was 19, she left colonial New Zealand and settled in England, where she became a friend of D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Lady Ottoline Morrell and others in the orbit of the Bloomsbury Group. Mansfield was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis in 1917 and she died in France aged 34.


Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp was born in 1888 into a socially prominent family in Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand. Her grandfather Arthur Beauchamp briefly represented the Picton electorate in parliament. She wrote in her journals of feeling alienated in New Zealand, and of how she had become disillusioned because of the repression of the Māori people. Māori characters often are portrayed in a sympathetic or positive light in her later stories, such as "How Pearl Button Was Kidnapped".


Mansfield met fellow student Ida Baker at the college, and they became lifelong friends. They both adopted their mother's maiden names for professional purposes, and Baker became known as LM or Lesley Moore, adopting the name of Lesley in honour of Mansfield's younger brother, Leslie.


After Mansfield had a brief reunion with Garnet, Mansfield's mother, Annie Beauchamp, arrived in 1909. She blamed the breakdown of the marriage to Bowden on a lesbian relationship between Mansfield and Baker, and she quickly had her daughter dispatched to the spa town of Bad Wörishofen in Bavaria, Germany, where Mansfield miscarried. It is not known whether her mother knew of this miscarriage when she left shortly after arriving in Germany, but she cut Mansfield out of her will.


Mansfield was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis in 1917 and she died in France aged 34.

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Books by Katherine Mansfield