Monday, 23 July 2012

Katherine Mansfield Treasure Trove


It's National Poetry Day in New Zealand, but I haven't a poem ready - in fact I've been too busy to blog at all this week.  But there is news of one of New Zealand's most famous writers and poets, Katherine Mansfield, which I just have to share.  A Ph.D student in London has found three new stories buried in the archives at Kings College, and one of them sheds quite a lot of light on the most mysterious period of her life - the birth of her illegitimate baby in Germany.  All that was known for certain was that she  became pregnant by a young musician, Garnet Trowell, that he wouldn't/couldn't marry her, that she married her music teacher and then left him on her wedding night and went to Germany where she had a baby that died.   The Independent had a big news item on it today, so it's ok to talk about it now.

This is one of those, oh, I wish!  moments.  How I wish that these stories had come to light before I finished the biography.  But that's just how it is.  Other wonderful news is that the family of John Middleton Murry have lodged the remaining Katherine Mansfield manuscripts with the rest of the collection in the Turnbull Library in Wellington.  Now everyone can look at the most comprehensive array of paperwork ever assembled relating to Katherine Mansfield and her life. 

My Mansfield biography still isn't available in E-book form, so I'm thinking of bringing it out myself later this year, perhaps to coincide with the publication of the complete stories of KM.  Why are publishers still so reticent about the E-book market?


Please check out the Tuesday Poem hub, for three wonderful poems from the shortlisted poets for the New Zealand Poetry Book Awards and take a look at the sidebar where contributors are posting other NZ poets for National Poetry Day.  http://www.tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com

13 comments:

  1. I found your biography of Mansfield to be a hugely valuable resource when compiling Mansfield with Monsters, especially when trying to encapsulate her connection with the occult and the morbid in the introduction to the book. An e-book edition would be great - and it is indeed an exciting time for fans of Katherine Mansfield!

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  2. Thanks Matt - I was always fascinated by her contacts with Aleister Crowley. Pity there's not more info!

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  3. Mattcowens. I am reading the stories in Mansfield and Monsters now. Very well done. I see, based on Kathleen's wonderful biography, an attraction in Mansfield for Guru like men which might be in accord with an attraction to the occult.

    Kathleen. I hope these stories will be put on line somewhere soon

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    1. Hi Mel - the stories will be included in an appendix to the Collected Stories ed by Vincent O'Sullivan and Gerri Kimber which is out in December.
      On the 'guru like men', I wonder whether she is constantly looking for a father figure? But she did also have a very strong need for spirituality and she was looking for 'meaning'.

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    2. Hi Mel - glad to hear that you're enjoying Mansfield with Monsters. I have known a few lovable rogues who could have, given the right circumstances, turned occult guru.

      Debbie and I enjoyed listening to this brief interview today:

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9740000/9740856.stm#?OCID=mcktwv

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  4. How frustrated and excited you must be!

    I guess publishers are just human = afraid of change.

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    1. Yes, I think this is what it is Al. Things are very difficult at the moment. Have just heard an agent say that it's impossible to get anything serious past a publisher - it's all shades of something or other!

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  5. I have your book published big volume which I think is definitive and was a treat to read but still I look forward to the eBook edition. Perhaps there you can incorporate some reference to these newly emerged stories. It shows what a vibrant subject K Mansfield is and you really know her... wxx Why not just eBook it yourself???

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  6. Kathleen - I would love to have your biography as an e-book. One thing I've learnt from all this madness is never to trust a journalist. I don't think a single sentence in quote marks was actually what I said, in any of the reviews! The Guardian one is the worst by far. I can't actually read it, I get so cross. Roll on anonymity again. I wasn't cut out for this at all! :o( Gerri

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  7. Oh Gerri - you're so right. They never quote what you actually say although hopefully they get the gist right. I think it's better just not to read the interview!

    Wendy - Have just been talking to my agent about e-rights and it seems that I'm going to be able to publish an e-version (updated to include ref to the stories) in December! Hurray!!!!

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    1. Brilliant! That will put it bang up to date. And hopefully once you've been to Wellington next year, you'll be able to update it even more using the new material just acquired. We shall be looking to you for a synopsis of the holdings! Can you ask Jackie if I can send you the appendix of new stories? Just for your eyes at moment, natch! :o) We need to sell the edition!

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  8. Looking forward to the e-version - it's on my reading list!

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  9. That is all very exciting and reads like a detective story. I would love to have been there when the student discovered them!
    Congratulations on being able to add them into an e-book ...and so soon!

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