Katherine Mansfield: Biography

Katherine Mansfield

14 okt 1888

Katherina Mansfield Murry was a writer of modernist short stories from New Zealand. At the age of 19, Mansfield moved to the United Kingdom, and befriended other modernist writers such as Virginia Woolf and D.H. Lawrence.

Mansfield began to write when she was a girl, and her first stories were published in the school magazine. She wrote a number of journals detailing her unhappiness at living in New Zealand in which she spoke out against the repression of the Maori people. This sympathy towards the Maori people, unusual for its time, can be seen in her gentle and fond representation of Maori characters in her later stories. How Pearl Button was Kidnapped is perhaps one of her most well-known stories, and it tells the story of a young girl who is taken to the seaside by some kind, well-meaning Maori women. It shows a much softer side to Maori culture than was usually portrayed in the literature of the time. In this way, she was an extremely forward-thinking writer, although she has been criticized as, unlike many of her peers, she was not a strict supporter of the suffragette movement in the UK.

She is also famous for having had several romantic relationships with women during her lifetime, at a time when this was considered far from socially acceptable.

In 1917, Katherina Mansfield contracted tuberculosis which prevented her from ever returning to her native New Zealand. She struggled with the disease for a number of years before she finally lost her battle and died in 1923, aged just 34.