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Katherine Mansfield

The Story-Teller

Kathleen Jones

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The compelling and intimate story of one of the world's foremost short story writers

'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.' - Jacqueline Wilson, novelist & patron of the Katherine Mansfield Society

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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

Born and brought up on a hill farm in the north of England, Kathleen Jones read law and then English Literature at university before specialising in early women writers - work that culminated in A Glorious Fame, the life of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle. She spent several years in Africa and the Middle East - where she worked in English broadcasting - before returning home. Her published work includes radio journalism, articles for magazines and newspapers, short fiction and eleven books - a mixture of biography, general non-fiction and poetry. Her biographies include:- A Passionate Sisterhood (Virago) - an account of the lives of the women who lived with the 'lake poets', which Sue Limb described as 'a fascinating, marvellous, utterly absorbing book . . . the stuff your English teacher never told you.': Learning not to be First, a life of the Victorian poet Christina Rossetti (OUP) which was Doris Lessing's 'book of the year', and a biography of Catherine Cookson (Time Warner). Kathleen lives in Cumbria where she writes full time. She has taught creative writing in a number of colleges and universities and is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Lancaster University. Further information at:


Jones’s biography is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the creation of the "Mansfield myth" and how Murry’s marketing of Mansfield obscured and undermined her reputation as a modernist writer…While Jones’s handling of the Murry material is by far the most innovative aspect of her biography, she also adds considerably to our understanding of other vexed aspects of Mansfield’s life, including…Mansfield’s enigmatic medical history, which Jones reads more carefully and fully than other commentators.

- Woolf Studies Annual, Volume 18, 2012
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.
- Helen Dunmore, novelist
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.
- Jacqueline Wilson, novelist & patron of the Katherine Mansfield Society
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.
- Pamela Norris, Literary Review
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.
- Lyndall Gordon, Biographer
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.
- Sarah Sandley, Honorary Chair of the Katherine Mansfield Society
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.
- Vincent O'Sullivan, co-editor of The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield