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Images above: The Beauchamp children c.1898. Alexander Turnbull Library, PAColl-4488;

Katherine Mansfield 1914. Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/4-017274-F.

Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923)

Katherine Mansfield was born Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp at 11 (later renumbered to 25) Tinakori Road, Thorndon on 14 October 1888.

The third daughter of Harold and Annie Beauchamp, Mansfield spent her childhood in Wellington, then travelled to London in 1903 with her two older sisters to attend Queen’s College. On her return home at the end of 1906, she felt stifled by colonial Wellington and her respectable, upper-class family and longed to escape.

A writer from an early age, Mansfield had stories published in newspapers and periodicals while still a teenager. After her time at Queen’s College, she was determined to make a career from her writing, especially once her initial dream of becoming a professional cellist was met with disapproval from her parents. In 1908, she convinced her father to let her return to London and left New Zealand in July that year.

Mansfield went on to become an internationally acclaimed writer best known for her Modernist short stories. Her work was admired by fellow 20th-century writers, including Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Hardy and Elizabeth Bowen. She spent time living in England, Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland and mixed with many progressive and well-known writers, artists, intellectuals and philosophers.

Her journals and letters evoke a passionate individual, dedicated to her craft, whose life was tragically cut short by tuberculosis aged 34.

The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography entry on Mansfield offers an excellent overview of her life and many of her stories can be found online.

Research Resources

If you're researching Katherine Mansfield, you may find the following resources useful.

Katherine Mansfield Researchers' Guide - National Library of New Zealand, 2019. This guide has been designed to help with researching Katherine Mansfield and includes an overview of Mansfield items held in the Alexander Turnbull Library and National Library collections.