Weaving together intimate details from Katherine Mansfield's letters and journals with the writings of her friends and acquaintances, Kathleen Jones creates a captivating drama of this fragile yet feisty author: her life, loves and passion for writing.
Part I-Leaving All Fair, 1 Fontainebleau, 2 The Husband's Story, 3 Ida's Story
Part II-Wanted: A New World, 4 'The Wizard London', 5 Freedom and Experience, 6 The Lost Child, 7 Coming of Age in Bavaria, 8 In Search of Katherine Mansfield, 9 'The Model Boys-will-be-boys Pseudo Intellectual Magazine'
Part III-The Two Katherines, 10 Violet, 11 The Failure of Love
Part IV, 12 Tig and Wig, 13 Rananim, 14 Prelude, 15 The 'Blooms Berries'
Part V-Betty, 16 In Limbo, 17 'The Last Hell'
Part IV-The Dark Katherine, 18 Facing Oblivion, 19 At the Bottom of the Sea, 20 The Perfect Friend, 21 'A Writer First and a Woman After'
Part VII-A Religion of Love, 22 Keeping Faith
Part VIII-'The Levantine Psychic Shark', 23 The Soul's Desperate Choice, 24 'A Child of the Sun'
About the Author
Kathleen Jones conveys the living presence of Katherine Mansfield in the present tense, so that one feels, along with her all-time words, her continued presence. She conveys the full complexity of Mansfield's character with understanding and without bias - what a feat given how manifold it is. What Middleton Murry made of her has a parallelled fascination; the contrasts of the living reality and the purified legend, an ephemeral construct appropriately narrated in the past tense, were striking. A marvellous, innovative biography.
What [emerges] with indisputable clarity from Jones's skilful use of her sources is a portrait of Mansfield, stylish and febrile, cigarette in one hand, pen in the other, relishing life, scrutinising it with her keen intelligence, and recording her perceptions in a voice that continues to unsettle and surprise.
A compelling narrative of a writer's passion for her work, her growth to maturity and the extraordinary trajectory which took a plump, awkward, rebellious little girl from a rigidly conventional family halfway across the world and into a culture of artistic, social and sexual experimentation.
I read it with huge enjoyment – I think it's by far the best Katherine Mansfield biography yet – giving a truthful but still sympathetic portrait.
Jones … writes with insight and verve, and an intelligent sympathy as her story is set out against those overlapping literary and social worlds the writer passes through … A mass of new material unavailable to earlier biographers makes this new telling richly detailed and compelling.
Jones has brought to the work a scholar's regard for fact, a novelist's regard for form, and a poet's regard for cadence. The test of a good literary biography is whether it makes you want to reacquaint yourself with the author's writing. This biography does just that.