**Update:** Unfortunately our organised NZSL interpreter is no longer able to be at this event.
We apologise to anyone in our Deaf community who had been planning to attend — we will be recording and uploading this event to our YouTube channel, and providing subtitles for anyone who wishes to watch at a later date.
Join us for a special event on iconic writer Katherine Mansfield at Karori Library on Thursday November 30th, 6-7pm. (Facebook event)
Redmer Yska, author of ‘Katherine Mansfield’s Europe: Station to Station’ will be joined by our Local & NZ History Specialist Gábor Tóth to deep dive into Mansfield’s words, travels and her local Karori connection. Hear how Yska traced and pulled together letters, journals and research to compile this fascinating insight into Mansfield that acts as part travelogue, part literary biography, part detective story and part ghost story.
Redmer Yska is an award-winning writer and historian based in Wellington. ‘Katherine Mansfield’s Europe: Station to Station’ is Yska’s second book on the iconic writer, his first book on Mansfield ‘A Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington’ was shortlisted for the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.
Gábor Tóth is the Local & New Zealand History Specialist at Wellington City Libraries. He conducts research for both library customers and council staff as well as developing history resources such as the library’s heritage platform, Wellington City Recollect.
We anticipate this event will be very popular and will be seated on a first-come first-served basis, please arrive early to avoid any disappointment.
Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you
Below is a blog and book list by Louise, one of our librarians, remembering Katherine Mansfield on the centenary of her death. Louise talks about her wide influence as a New Zealand writer and her connections to Karori and to our city, as well as a recent Wellington City Libraries connection…
On my shelf sits a ragged and much-loved Penguin edition of the Collected Works of Katherine Mansfield given to me by my parents in 1986 when I was 17. I consumed and adored this book. Mansfield’s writing was delicate but strong, subtle, with a focus on stream-of-consciousness and (that gem of a phrase from high school English) reflected a ‘slice of life’. And she was a New Zealander like me! I was inspired and enriched immediately.
I took this book with me on a six-week language exchange to Tahiti between sixth and seventh form. I was horribly homesick, and somehow the representations of New Zealand (to me often containing a pang of her own homesickness) and the tiny worlds she created in a few pages were soothing and beautiful, even when describing sadness and cruelty. The Doll’s House remains affecting nearly 40 years after I first read it. That summer was the start of my great love for Katherine Mansfield who challenged the literary world with her modernity (both in writing and her approach to life) and left a legacy that drew admiration from the likes of her contemporary Virginia Woolf right through to the Italian great Italo Calvino. My heart always sings when I am reading about a writer and they mention Mansfield as an influence – she is still relevant today and her writing continues to fascinate and entertain.
This week marks the centenary of her death, at the young age of 34, on 9 January 1923 in Avon-Fontainebleau, France. I now work at the Karori Library, near the corner of Beauchamp Street, named for Mansfield’s family who lived in Karori at the time of her birth. We have a new courtyard outside the library and there is a line from her short story Prelude in relief on one of the walls: “And then at the first beam of sun the birds began”, very apt for the start of a day near Zealandia. This week we have a display in the library commemorating her death. This morning, when I went to get a coffee at the cafe next door to the library I saw a man at the counter with a book he had just borrowed from our display. I told him I was writing a blog about Katherine Mansfield and he told me his name was Phil and that he had attended Karori Normal School where there was a memorial to Mansfield. Having seen our display, he thought it was about time he read some of her stories. I love the idea of Phil sitting in a cafe in Karori reading Mansfield’s stories in the suburb of her birth as we commemorate her life and death in Europe.
Wellington City Libraries has a strong connection to Katherine Mansfield and you can read about the discovery of a previously unknown short story, His Little Friend, by a then 11-year-old Kathleen M. Beauchamp (her given name), which was published on the children’s page of the New Zealand Graphic on 13 October 1900 and found a few years ago in our collection by our New Zealand History Specialist Gabor Toth and the Wellington writer Redmer Yska.
We have many items by and about Katherine Mansfield in our collections. Her writing sparks and her life was fascinating, intersecting with many interesting characters such as Maata Mahupuku, Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, Bertrand Russell, and Dora Carrington. See below for just a few items that we recommend from and about an author who wrote: “To be alive and to be a ‘writer’ is enough”:
Bliss: and other stories / Mansfield, Katherine
” This edition includes a modern introduction and a list of suggested further reading. Bliss and Other Stories represents the range of themes and concerns for which Katherine Mansfield is known. Besides the great number of marriage and couple’s narratives, this collection also includes “woman alone” stories about unmarried women exploring hopes, dreams, trials, and fears. Mansfield’s greatest skill is her ability to capture accurately the tender life of the human psyche and soul. ” (Adapted from our catalogue)
A strange beautiful excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington, 1888-1903 / Yska, Redmer
“How does a city make a writer? Described by Fiona Kidman as a ‘ravishing, immersing read’, this is a ‘wild ride’ through the Wellington of Katherine Mansfield’s childhood. From the grubby, wind-blasted streets of Thorndon to the hushed green valley of Karori, author Redmer Yska, himself raised in Karori, retraces Mansfield’s old ground: the sights, sounds and smells of the rickety colonial capital, as experienced by the budding writer” (Adapted from our catalogue)
Katherine Mansfield’s New Zealand / O’Sullivan, Vincent
“A stunning, fully illustrated guide to the country and times that shaped our greatest short story writer — a feast of images and relevant excerpts from Mansfield’s stories and journals. Katherine Mansfield was born in Wellington in 1888 and died in France in 1923, regarded as one of the finest short story writers of her time. Her country of birth, initially a source of frustration for her, in time came to influence her writing. From Kezia’s Karori journey in Prelude, to the landscape of The Woman at the Store, the images of colonial New Zealand are a distinctive and compelling part of Katherine Mansfield’s writing. A fascinating section of the book details her expedition to the Urewera and thermal regions. The first (monochrome) edition of Katherine Mansfield’s New Zealand appeared in 1974; this edition has been extensively revised, with colourful new images and vivid excerpts from Katherine Mansfield’s writing.” (From our catalogue)
Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf : a public of two / Smith, Angela
“Long after the death of Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) described being haunted by Mansfield in dreams. Through detailed comparative readings of their fiction, letters, and diaries, Smith explores the intense affinity between the two writers. Their particular inflection of modernism is interpreted through their shared experience as `threshold people’, familiar with the liminal, for each of them a zone of transition and habitation. Writing at a time when the First World War and changing attitudes to empire problematized boundaries and definitions of foreignness, we see how the fiction of both Mansfield and Woolf is characterized by moments of disorienting suspension in which the perceiving consciousness sees the familiar made strange, the domestic made menacing.” (From our catalogue)
The Bloomsbury Handbook to Katherine Mansfield / Martin, Todd (EDT)/ Keuss, Jeff (EDT)
“Through her formally innovative and psychologically insightful short stories, Katherine Mansfield is increasingly recognised as one of the central figures in early 20th-century modernism. Bringing together leading and emerging scholars and covering her complete body of work, this is the most comprehensive volume to Mansfield scholarship available today. The Bloomsbury Handbook to Katherine Mansfield covers the full range of contemporary scholarly themes and approaches to the author’s work, including: New biographical insights, including into the early New Zealand years, responses to the historical crises: the Great War, empire and orientalism, Mansfield’s fiction, poetry, criticism and private writing, Mansfield and modernist culture – from Bloomsbury to the little magazines, her contemporaries – Woolf, Lawrence and von Arnim, Mansfield and the arts – visual culture, cinema and music. The book also includes a substantial annotated bibliography of key works of Mansfield scholarship from the last 30 years.” (Adapted from our catalogue)
New Zealand stories / Mansfield, Katherine
“Katherine Mansfield is New Zealand’s most celebrated writer, and one of the key figures in the history of the short story in English. This is the first time the stories set in her own country have been brought together and published in the order in which she wrote them. The Mansfield that emerges from this fresh perspective is both familiar and unexpected.” (From our catalogue)
Something childish and other stories / Mansfield, Katherine
“A collection of stories that span the length of Katherine Mansfield’s writing career.” (Adapted from our catalogue)
If you are interested in reading Katherine Mansfield’s books then don’t miss this eBook: Kirsty Gunn’s Thorndon Wellington and Home: My Katherine Mansfield Project. Read this eBook on Bridget Williams Books Text Collection, by entering your library card details.
Thorndon : Wellington and home : my Katherine Mansfield project / Kirsty Gunn.
“For London-based writer Kirsty Gunn, returning to the city of her birth to spend a winter in a tiny colonial cottage in Thorndon is an exciting opportunity to walk the very streets and hills that Katherine Mansfield left behind on her departure from New Zealand, but later longed to revisit. For Mansfield, Gunn writes, home was an instant ‘go-to’ zone for invention and narrative and characterisation and setting. For Gunn, home is now two places – Here and there the same place after all.” (Syndetics summary)
Read more eBooks on New Zealand popular topics including the housing crisis, 1981 Springbok tour, and the Christchurch earthquake through Bridget Williams Books Text Collection.
Previously undiscovered letters and a story written by a young Katherine Mansfield were recently unearthed in Wellington City Libraries’ archives by a local author researching a book about the famous writer.
Previously unknown to Mansfield’s modern readers and scholars, the short story His Little Friend, by a then 11-year-old Kathleen M. Beauchamp (her given name), was published on the children’s page of the New Zealand Graphic on 13 October 1900.
The story is reprinted in full in Redmer Yska’s new book, A Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington 1888–1903. Redmer describes the story, about the friendship between a lonely, elderly man and an impoverished child, as showing the young Mansfield “grappling with harsh, bleak truths at a young age, paving the way for much of what was to come”.
Local History and Rare Books Librarian Gábor Tóth, who looks after the Wellington Central Library’s collection of bound copies of the New Zealand Graphic, was instrumental in the discovery.
“I knew that we hold what is probably the largest collection of hard-copies of this weekly magazine in New Zealand, and also how popular it had been among middle-class women in the two decades leading up to World War I,” says Gábor.
Other than a few short pieces in school magazines, it was believed that Mansfield’s first formally published work wasn’t printed until 1907. To uncover a short story dated seven years before then was an extraordinary find.
“Knowing that Redmer was writing a new biography of Katherine Mansfield, I encouraged him to look through a few volumes of the magazine. Partly because it helps paint a picture of what Wellington was like at the turn of last century, but also because I had come across several references to the Beauchamp family in the ‘society’ pages when I had previously browsed through copies.”
The discovery of the unknown writings has excited local and international experts. “Other than a few short pieces in school magazines, it was believed that Mansfield’s first formally published work wasn’t printed until 1907. To uncover a short story dated seven years before then was an extraordinary find; and it was fitting that Redmer was the person to find it,” adds Gábor.
Redmer Yska’s new book, A Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington 1888–1903, published by Otago University Press, is being launched today at Unity Books Wellington. You can also reserve the new book from our catalogue now.
By 1916 Britain, Australia and Canada had each established official war art programmes to document their country’s activities in the First World War and to use for propaganda purposes. Muirhead Bone was appointed Britain’s first official war artist in May of that year in an unprecedented act of government sponsorship for the arts. New Zealand lagged behind its allies on this issue because its wartime government considered war art unnecessary and expensive, but in April 1918 Nugent Welch was taken on as New Zealand’s divisional war artist.
Art from the First World War.
“Throughout World War I, the British government employed a diverse group of artists to produce a rich visual record of wartime events. But the art from this important collection often far exceeds this objective, giving voice to both the artist and the soldiers who are depicted. Art from the First World War contains more than fifty images chosen from among the Imperial War Museum’s impressive collection of works by war artists. Art from the First World War features some of the most well-known British artists of the twentieth century, from the brothers John and Paul Nash to William Orpen, Stanley Spencer, and John Singer Sargent, whose Gassed shows a line of wounded soldiers blinded by a mustard gas attack. On the occasion of the centenary, the Imperial War Museum is bringing this book out in a new edition.” (Syndetics summary)
Historically portraits of military leaders were more common then the portraits of the ordinary serviceman. The depictions of other aspects of war such as the suffering of casualties and civilians has taken much longer to develop.
The Great War in portraits / Paul Moorhouse ; with an essay by Sebastian Faulks.
“In viewing the Great War through the portraits of those involved, Paul Moorhouse looks at the bitter-sweet nature of a conflict in which valour and selfless endeavour were qualified by disaster and suffering, and examines the notion of identity – how various individuals associated with the war were represented and perceived.” (Syndetics)
There were no officially commissioned women war artists in the First World War. Women artists were excluded from the front line – the fields of domesticity and social and industrial subjects were considered to be their metier. However women served as nurses, nurse aides and ambulance drivers. Many of them were accomplished informal artists and were able to record their experiences in several mediums.
Beyond the battlefield : women artists of the two World Wars
“World Wars I and II changed the globe on a scale never seen before or since, and from these terrible conflicts came an abundance of photographs, drawings, and other artworks attempting to make sense of the turbulent era. In this generously illustrated book, Catherine Speck provides a fascinating account of women artists during wartime in America, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and their visual responses to war, both at the front lines and on the home front. In addition to following high-profile artists such as American photographer Lee Miller, Speck recounts the experiences of nurses, voluntary aides, and ambulance drivers who found the time to create astonishing artworks in the midst of the conflict.” (Syndetics)
Posters were recognised as a powerful recruiting tool with simple slogans and strong graphic imagery designed to appeal to the working class who fuelled so much of the machinery of war. They were also used to stir up patriotic feeling, influence women to send their menfolk to the front and to take up positions in service, farms and factories. They were also used to justify the war, raise money, procure resources and to promote good standards of behaviour.
British posters of the First World War
“During the First World War the authorities emulated the simple slogans and strong graphic imagery of advertising posters to create a form of mass communication that was easily and instantly understood by the British public. They were aimed at the mostly illiterate working class who did more than their share to feed the machinery of war. This book looks at the art of these posters and explores the themes that emerged throughout the course of the conflict.” (Syndetics)
Photography in the First World War was made possible by earlier developments in chemistry and in the manufacture of glass lenses, established as a practical process from the 1850s onwards.The ability of photographers to document events was limited to what they could literally see at a certain time, while the quality of their work was hampered by the limited manoeuverability of their equipment. War artists had much greater flexibility as documenters of war, particularly in the difficult conditions of the trenches.
World War I in colour : the definitive illustrated history with over 200 remarkable full colour photographs
“Up to now, World War I has only been seen in black and white. At the time, it was the only way pictures from the front and scenes recreated for the camera could be filmed. Now, for the first time, rare archive footage in black and white from worldwide sources, including Russia, Germany, France, Italy, the USA and the Imperial War Museum, London, has been recast into colour with the greatest care and attention to detail. The results are breathtaking, bringing a remarkable immediacy and poignancy to the war which consumed the lives of 10 million soldiers and civilians.” (Syndetics)
Images of war : World War One : a photographic record of New Zealanders at war 1914-1918
“In this photographic collection from the archives of the Waiouru Army Museum, renowned military historian Glyn Harper has selected and annotated the story of Kiwis at the front during the First World War.” (Syndetics)
For many confronted with the effects or aftermath of the war’s violence, photos were too graphic for daily consumption. Caricatures and cartoons served as a release valve—allowing citizens to make fun of politicians, or the enemy, to offset the dire realities of the day. The period was a high point for illustrated magazines, and cartoons were contemporary commentaries.
World War I in cartoons
“Using images from a wide variety of international wartime magazines, newspapers, books, postcards, posters and prints, Mark Bryant tells the history of World War I from both sides of the conflict in an immediate and refreshing manner that brings history alive. The book contains more than 300 cartoons and caricatures, in colour and black and white, many of which are published here in book form for the first time. Artists featured include such famous names as Bruce Bairnsfather, H.M.Bateman, F.H.Townshend, Alfred Leete, E.J. Sullivan, Lucien Metivet and Louis Raemaekers, with drawings from the Bystander, London Opinion, Daily Graphic, Punch, Le Rire, Simplicissimus and Kladderadatsch amongst many others.” (Syndetics)
Art and medicine:
Drawings, portraits and photographs were used to help the four pioneering plastic surgeons of the two world wars to reconstruct the faces of disfigured servicemen and civilians.
Reconstructing faces : the art and wartime surgery of Gillies, Pickerill, McIndoe & Mowlem
“The two world wars played an important role in the evolution of plastic and maxillofacial surgery in the first half of the 20th century. This book is about four of the key figures involved. Sir Harold Gillies and Sir Archibald McIndoe were born in Dunedin; McIndoe and Rainsford Mowlem studied medicine at the University of Otago Medical School, and Henry Pickerill was foundation Dean of the University of Otago Dental School.” (Syndetics)
How the First World War shaped the future of Western art:
The First World War utterly changed the way artists looked at the world. Throughout Western art, the grim realities of industrial warfare led to a backlash against the propaganda and grandiose nationalism that had sparked the conflagration. Cynicism toward the ruling classes and disgust with war planners and profiteers led to demands for art forms that were honest and direct, less embroidered with rhetoric and euphemism.
Esprit de corps : the art of the Parisian avant-garde and the First World War, 1914-1925
“In analyzing the changes in modern art between the outbreak of World War I and the Paris Exposition des Arts Dcoratifs of 1925, Kenneth Silver shows that the Parisian avant-garde was deeply involved in French society and its dominant values and relationships. He radically reinterprets masterpieces of modern art, from Matisse and Picasso to Léger and Le Corbusier, demonstrating how their creators all refer, consciously or not, to the Great War and its aftermath.” (Syndetics)
World War One had a dramatic effect on fiction at the time, as well as on the future course of literature. Not only did it give rise to the booming and still very popular genre of World War One Fiction, it also dramatically affected a number of famous authors, influencing their writing for years to come.
Katherine Mansfield, Chaucer Mansions flat, Queen’s Club Gardens, West Kensington, London, England in 1913
Baker, Ida: Photographs of Katherine Mansfield. Ref: 1/4-059876-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22317542
One such writer was New Zealand’s (arguably) most famed author, Katherine Mansfield. Mansfield lived in Europe at the time war broke out, having moved there from her family’s home in Karori, Wellington in 1908. Her beloved brother, Leslie Heron ‘Chummie’ Beauchamp was killed in 1915, as a New Zealand soldier in France. Living in London at the time, the shock of her brother’s death lead her to write stories based on her childhood in New Zealand, published in Bliss and Other Stories. In a poem describing a dream she had shortly after his death, she wrote:
“By the remembered stream my brother stands
Waiting for me with berries in his hands…
These are my body. Sister, take and eat.”
(Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield (2002). Oxford World’s Classics.)
Katherine Mansfield and her brother Leslie in Wellington in 1907.
Ref: 1/4-010048-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23038688
World War One also had a significant influence on the writing of Ernest Hemingway. He attempted to join the US army in 1918 but, rejected due to poor eyesight, he instead became a driver with the Red Cross Ambulance Corps. Only two months after joining, Hemingway was seriously injured by a trench mortar and machine gun. While recuperating in a Milan hospital, Hemingway fell in love with a nurse, and they planned to marry within a few months. However, she later wrote that she had become engaged to an Italian officer. Biographer Jeffrey Meyers claims that Hemingway was devastated by Agnes’ rejection, and this relationship inspires the semi-autobiographical novel A Farewell to Arms. Like Hemingway, the protagonist served in the Army as a Red Cross ambulance driver during World War One, got wounded and spent some time in an American Army in Milan, where he met a nurse. But unlike Hemingway, the protagonist starts a love affair with the nurse.
Hemingway in uniform in Milan, 1918.
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Another great author to serve in the war was J.R.R Tolkien. In 1915, Tolkien enlisted in Britain’s New Army, and his battalion was sent to France in June 1916. Although Tolkien himself stated that the war had only a limited influence on his writing, his war experiences are thought to be sublimated in his fiction. They surface in the sense of loss that suffuses the stories, in the ghastly landscapes of places like Mordor, in the sense of gathering darkness, and in the fates of his Hobbit protagonists. Discussing the brutal landscape of Mordor in The Lord of the Rings, he later stated in one of his letters,
“The Dead marshes and the approaches to the Morannon owe something to Northern France after the Battle of the Somme.”
Tolkien while serving in the British Army during the First World War, 1916.
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These are only some of the authors whose work is thought to have been persuaded by World War One. Others include writers of “traditional” war literature Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg, and Robert Graves, and also novels by Modernists D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, poetry by T.S. Eliot, and even later novels by Evelyn Waugh, W. Somerset Maugham, Pat Barker, and Robertson Davies.
The following is a sampling of bestselling fiction during the years of World War One:
It is interesting to note the trend in interest in books on orphans, as indicated by Pollyanna, Michael O’Halloran and Dear Enemy. Mr. Britling Sees It Through is regarded as H.G. Wells’s “masterpiece of the wartime experience in England.” The protagonist is popularly believed to be an alter ego of the author. A central theme of the novel is the casualties of war, as the protagonist deals with the death of his son Hugh at the front, as well as that of a German student, who formerly boarded with the family. Mr Britling Sees It Through was one of the most popular novels in the United Kingdom and Australia during World War One, and was described by Maxim Gorky thus:
“the finest, most courageous, truthful, and humane book written in Europe in the course of this accursed war . . at a time of universal barbarism and cruelty, your book is an important and truly humane work.”
Still today World War One inspires and informs many works of fiction for both adults and children alike. Check out our catalogue for more titles.