who is Katherine Mansfield?


It has been a lively afterlife. In the ninety years since Mansfield’s death, her work has never been out of print; the same stories repeatedly reedited and reissued in newer, more “authentic” editions. Biographies have multiplied, clamoring for validation like conspiracy theorists. Scholars have greedily rummaged through this particular portmanteau, each emerging with quite irreconcilable portraits of the author. One of the most dedicated treasure-hunters has been Dr. Gerri Kimber, a British scholar, who dug up “a little gem” just last month at the Alexander Turnbull Library, in Wellington, New Zealand. The unearthed manuscripts contained one “complete piece” inspired by an erotic pantomime and signed Katharina Mansfield. Kimber rhapsodized about the significance of the find: the writer and the woman “go hand in hand,” she said; the discovered draft could tell us much about the life; the writing was a cathartic exercise for the woman. Kimber is working on a four-volume Mansfield extravaganza (letters, diaries, stories, poems); when it is published, a new “complete” version of Mansfield will join all the others.

more from Kirsten O’Regan at Paris Review here.