July 2012 | Nate Pedersen

Lost Katherine Mansfield Story Found in Archive

Katherinemansfield.jpgA lost short story by the New Zealand author Katherine Mansfield was uncovered in an archive at Kings College, London.  The story, "A Little Episode," deals with an affair between a socialite and a musician. It was discovered by a graduate student along with several previously unknown children's stories and a collection of aphorisms.

The graduate student, Chris Mourant, found the material while trawling through the archives of the literary magazine ADAM held by Kings College, London.  Mourant revealed the find to Dr. Gerri Kimber, a Mansfield expert, who will be publishing the first complete collection of the author's writings later this year. Kimber was astounded by the find, describing it in an interview with the Guardian as "hugely exciting."

Kimber believes the Mansfield story sheds light on a difficult phase in the author's life.  Like the protagonist in "A Little Episode," Mansfield fell in love with a musician.  He abandoned her when he found out that she was pregnant.  Mansfield then married a music teacher, only to leave him the same day and attempt to return to the musician, who refused to take Mansfield back. The sad little affair was elevated to tragedy when Mansfield's baby was stillborn.

"A Little Episode," along with the three children's stories, will be included in the upcoming "Collected Fiction of Katherina Mansfield," edited by Kimber, which will be released this fall from Edinburgh University Press.

Mansfield (1888 - 1923) is primarily remembered for her stories "The Garden Party," "The Daughters of the Late Colonel," and "The Fly." She was born and raised in New Zealand, but came to Great Britain at age 19, where she befriended other Modernist writers such as Virginia Woolf.  Mansfield died prematurely at 34, a victim of tuberculosis.