May 13, 2017

Katherine Mansfield

Katherine Mansfield, a New Zealand short story writer, who is regarded as a key figure in British modernism for developing modern short story.

Katherine Mansfield Quick Facts


  • Birth Name: Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp
  • Married Name: Kathleen Mansfield Murry
  • Pseudonym: Katherine Mansfield
  • Date of Birth: October 14, 1888
  • Place of Birth: Wellington, New Zealand
  • Zodiac Sign: Libra
  • Death: January 9, 1923
  • Place of Death: Fontainebleau, France
  • Cause of Death: Tuberculosis
  • Ethnicity: White
  • Nationality: New Zealand
  • Place of Burial: Cimetiere d'Avon, Avon
  • Gravestone Inscription:
  • Father: Harold Beauchamp (1858–1938)
  • Mother: Annie Burnell Beauchamp (1863–1818)
  • Siblings:
  1. Sister: Vera Margaret Bell (c. 1885–1974)
  2. Sister: Charlotte Mary Perkins (1887–1966)
  3. Sister: Gwedoline Burnell Beauchamp (1890–1891)
  4. Sister: Jeanne Worthington Renshaw (1892–1989)
  5. Brother: Leslie Heron Beauchamp (1894–1915)
  • Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
  • Spouse:
  1. George Bowden (m. Mar 2, 1909)
  2. John Middleton Murry (m. May 3, 1918)
  • Partner: Ida Constance Baker (1888–1978)
  • Children: 1 stillborn daughter
  • Alma Mater: Wellington Girls’ College; Queen's College
  • Known for: noted for her short stories with themes relating to women's lives and social hierarchies as well as her sense of wit and characterizations.
  • Criticized for: her bohemian lifestyle and libertinism, which entailed affairs with many men and two women.
  • Katherine Mansfield was Influenced by: Anton Chekhov (1860–1904), George Gurdjieff (1866–1949), and Beatrice Hastings (1879 –1943)
  • Mansfield’s Works Inspired: Christopher Isherwood (1904–1986), and Aldous Huxley (1894–1963)


“Everything in life that we really accept undergoes a change. So suffering must become Love. This is the mystery. This is what I must do.”

Katherine Mansfield, The Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927), Journal entry: 19 December 1920

Major Themes

  • The growth and self-consciousness of the female
  • The relation between men and women
  • Complexity of human emotion
  • Children’s innocence
  • Repressed sexuality
  • Bisexuality
  • Disappointment
  • Gender roles
  • The cruelty of the reality
  • Death

Notable Works

  • In a German Pension (1911)
  • "Prelude" (1918)
  • Bliss and Other Stories (1920)
  • The Garden Party and Other Stories (1922)
  • The Dove's Nest (1923)
  • Something Childish (1924)

Did You Know?

  • Katherine Mansfield was the third of the five children born to a financier and the chairman of the Bank of New Zealand, Harold Beauchamp.
  • She first published her stories in the Wellington Girls’ High School magazine and the High School Reporter.
  • Her short story "Prelude” was published by Woolf's Hogarth Press as a book in 1918.
  • Only three collections of her stories were published during her lifetime and most of her works remained unpublished till her death.
  • Most of Mansfield’s subjects were recollections of her family and her childhood spent in New Zealand.
  • Mansfield was an early practitioner of stream of consciousness technique.
  • When Mansfield settled in the United Kingdom, she became a friend of modernist writers such as D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf.
  • Mansfield is thought to have contracted tuberculosis from D.H. Lawrence.
  • Apart from her literary career Mansfield is widely remembered for her promiscuous relationships with both, men and women, which partly led to her downfall.
  • At the age of nineteen she fell in love with Garnet Trowell, a young violinist. When the affair collapsed, she rashly married G.C. Bowden, a singing teacher and then abandoned him the day after the wedding to live with Ida Baker. She resumed her relationship with Garnet, became pregnant, and eventually had a stillborn child.
  • It is alleged that she had a love affair with a young woman artist, Edith Bendall.
  • In 1910 she became seriously ill with the effects of untreated gonorrhoea. An operation left her unable to have children.
  • In 1912 Mansfield met John Middleton Murry and began living together that culminated in their marriage in 1918, although she left him twice, in 1911 and 1913.
  • Katherine Mansfield died from a haemorrhage on January 9, 1923 at eleven 11 pm soon after the arrival of her husband, John Middleton Murry.
  • Mansfield willed her manuscripts, notebooks and letters to Murry, who published many posthumously, and contributed to the growth of her international reputation.
  • Ida kept many of Mansfield’s belongings, and all the letters that she and Mansfield had exchanged after 1915.
  • After Mansfield’s demise Ida looked after Murry. However, although needing to be looked after, Murry did not want to live with Ida. So the relationship did not work and Ida made a dignified exit.

Media Gallery

Katherine Mansfield in 1917

Katherine Mansfield and John Middleton Murry in 1920

Katherine Mansfield and John Middleton Murry in 1921

Katherine Mansfield and John Middleton Murry

Katherine Mansfield's Family




" Katherine Mansfield.” Wikipedia. 2017. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. 10 April 2017
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