From Publishers Weekly
The New Zealand-born writer Mansfield (1888-1923) and her husband, Murry, the English editor and literary critic, exchanged hundreds of passionate, probing letters during their tempestuous 11-year relationship. Their correspondence reveals Mansfield's fiercely independent spirit, as well as her intense need for understanding from Murry from the time she met him at the home of a friend in London in 1912 until a few days before her death from tuberculosis in 1923. ``I'm a writer first,'' she tells him. ``You are dearer than anyone in the world to me--but more than anything else--more even than talking or laughing or being happy I want to write.'' Their letters also show that Murry was capable of more love than Mansfield gave him credit for, even during their periods of separation. The last missives find Mansfield at the Gurdjieff Institute in Fontainebleau; there she received hopeful letters from Murry about being reunited. This illuminating volume, collated by the editor of The Letters of John Middleton Murry to Katherine Mansfield , provides a fascinating glimpse into the characters of two people who strove to lead lives free of convention and restraint.
Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) was born Kathleen Beauchamp in Wellington, New Zealand. She was educated at Queen's College, London, eventually settling in Britain in 1908. Her first volume of stories, In a German Pension
, was published in 1911. In 1912 she met John Middleton Murry (1889-1957), then an Oxford undergraduate and editor of the modernist periodical Rhythm
, and at her invitation he moved into her London flat. They became lovers (marrying in 1918), and together they edited the periodical until its collapse in 1913. Their relationship was stormy, alternating between intense love and virtual estrangement, and it was frequently punctuated by separations. At the request of Murry's friend, D.H. Lawrence, they spent some time living near the Lawrences in Cornwall, but relations became strained and Lawrence later portrayed Katherine and Murry as Gudrun and Gerald in his novel, Women in Love
. In 1917 Katherine contracted tuberculosis and spent the remaining years of her life moving between London and France. During this period she was accompanied always by her lifelong friend Ida Baker (L.M.), or by Murry, who from 1919 to 1921 was editor of the Athenaeum
, in which he published such fine writers as Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, Paul Valery and Katherine herself. A further collection of Katherine's stories, Bliss
, was published in December 1920. But her health was deteriorating, and the following year she traveled to Switzerland, where she lived near her cousin, the novelist Elizabeth von Arnim. Finally, Katherine turned to the philosophy of Gurdjieff, entering the Gurdjieff Institute in Fontainebleau in 1922, the year she published The Garden Party
. On December 31 she wrote to Murry, asking him to visit her; he arrived on January 9, and she died that evening.
A year after Katherine's death, Murry founded the Adelphi, and though he married again three times, remained dedicated to the publication of Katherine Mansfield's works. Two collections of stories, The Doves' N