Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) published three collections of short stories-In a German Pension, Bliss, and The Garden Party-during her tragically short life, and was acclaimed as one of modernism's most daring and original writers. After her death from tuberculosis in France, Mansfield's private writings and letters were edited by her husband, John Middleton Murry, and published in four volumes between 1927 and 1954. Murry, however, took liberties in recasting his wife's journals and notes. He excluded most of the vast mass of material and revised much of what he included, resulting in a distorted image of Mansfield as a passive, ethereal spirit.
More than four decades later, the real Mansfield finally emerges in The Katherine Mansfield Notebooks, the first unexpurgated edition of her private writings. Fully and accurately transcribed by editor Margaret Scott, these infrequent diary entries, drafts of letters, introspective notes jotted on scraps of paper, unfinished stories, half-plotted novels, poems, recipes, and shopping lists offer a complete and compelling portrait of a complex woman who was ambitious and at times ruthless, neurotic and sexually voracious, witty and acerbic, fascinated with the minutiae of daily life and obsessed with death.
"It is only now, with the publication of Margaret Scott's complete and unselective transcription of the material bequeathed to Murry, that we can really see Mansfield, off her guard and unexpurgated, for the first time. . . . Mansfield's notebooks are remarkable, touched by a sense of the underlying pathos of things, two parts tragedy and two parts comedy." Times Literary Supplement (London)
"Mansfield's work speaks about what is irretrievably lost, material, mortal, unless it is turned to artifice-and nowhere more than in these notebooks, where she is so reluctantly introspective." London Review of Books
Margaret Scott is National Library research fellow at New Zealand's National Library in Wellington. She has coedited five volumes of The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield.