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Katherine Mansfield: The Story-Teller [Paperback]

Kathleen Jones
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Nov 2011
The compelling and intimate story of one of the world's foremost short story writers 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. The story takes us beyond Mansfield's death in 1923 to explore the life of her husband, John Middleton Murry - and his relationship with three further wives - as he manipulated the posthumous publication of Mansfield's unpublished work. In this vivid portrayal of one of the world's foremost short story writers, the first new biography for a quarter of a century, Kathleen Jones crafts an intriguing narrative of Katherine Mansfield's relationships, illnesses and creativity.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Edinburgh University Press; Reprint edition (30 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0748650652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0748650651
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,085,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

KATHLEEN JONES was born and brought up on a hill farm in Cumbria and now lives with her partner, sculptor Neil Ferber, in a small house in an olive grove in northern Italy while working on another book. She has been writing since she was a child and has published twelve books including seven biographies, a novel and a collection of poetry. She lived for ten years in Africa and the Middle East, where she worked for the Qatar Broadcasting Corporation. Since then she has written extensively for BBC radio and contributed to several television documentaries.

Kathleen was appointed as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow in 2007. Her latest biography, 'Katherine Mansfield: The Storyteller' was published by Penguin NZ and Edinburgh University Press in 2010. A new 'Readers' Guide' to the life and work of Margaret Forster, called 'Margaret Forster: A Life in Books' is available as an e-book, and a novel 'The Sun's Companion' was published by The Book Mill in 2012. Her latest collection of poetry 'Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21', published by Templar Poetry, won the 2011 Straid Award.

She is best known for her award-winning biographies, but has also published poetry, feature articles and short fiction in a variety of national and international magazines and newspapers. Her short stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio and on radio networks in Holland, Germany and Spain. She was one of the featured authors in the recent 'Save our Short Story Anthology' compiled by the Arts Council on the internet. As a journalist Kathleen has written articles and reviews for the Independent, the Guardian, the Daily Express, and the TLS, as well as magazines such as SHE and Cosmo.

Kathleen Jones is an enthusiastic blogger, writing an on-line journal 'A Writer's Life' and a book review blog. She is part of the 'Tuesday Poem' group, based in New Zealand. Kathleen regularly leads creative writing workshops for fiction, poetry and life writing. In September each year she also tutors a residential writing course at Peralta in Italy with American novelist Mary-Rose Hayes.

Product Description


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

Biographer 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

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: www.kathleenjones.co.uk

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 4 Mar 2011
This wonderful new book about Katherine Mansfield includes much new information. It is beautifully written and totally engaging to read. The book is full of fascinating detail but is never weighed down by needless background information. Kathleen Jones explores her subject with great sensitivity and, as she is a writer herself, she is able to really understand Katherine Mansfield as a writer. I'm sure that Katherine Mansfield herself would very much approve of this book. I strongly recommend it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Katherine Mansfield: The Story Teller 9 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This biography has come up with new material about the author who has always fascinated me. It is well written and utterly absorbing. I have read about Mansfield before, but she has come to life again. I would have preferred a little more about her actual writing, but I'm only half way through....
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tragic tale, a riveting read 26 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Over the last week and a half I have been absolutely caught up in this book and have only put it aside reluctantly. So much commends it, not least being the cast of characters and the affect they had upon each other's lives, whether they be husbands, wives, children, lovers, friends or colleagues. Not just Katherine but the players in her life are explored from all sides and given space - and their own words - with which to reveal themselves. This is a fine, sensitive and well-researched biography that sends me rushing to read Mansfield, wondering why I've never done so before. Can't say when I last enjoyed, or felt so touched or inspired by, a biography.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding biography 15 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is one of the best biographies I have ever read. I will confess that I have read very little of Katherine Mansfield's work and knew her mainly as one of those writers who other writers and discerning readers praise so who was always on my reading list but never quite made it to the top. This book, however, is a searing human document. Kathleen Jones conveys Mansfield's dedication to perfection in her writing and also explains the wider ramification of her illness. Her central relationship with her husband John Middleton Murray did more than dominate his and her life, it had a catastrophic effect on those who came after. This is where the true excellence of Jones's biography lies. Her structuring of her story is radical and succeeds brilliantly in analysing the impact of Mansfield's life as well as the events within it. Highly recommended.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Fiz
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was desperate to read this book, as it is the first new book about Katherine Mansfield for 25 years, but ultimately, I found it to be disappointing. The spelling in this book does not appear to have been checked and there are constant typos. Also, this book is less about Katherine Mansfield than about what happened to her appallingly selfish husband, John Middleton Murry, after she died. There is nothing that can be said to sanitise this man and it is a waste of time trying. He broke her dying wish to get rid of all her unfinished work, published it, and manufactured "Diaries" which don't exist, just cobbled together parts of various notebooks and grew very wealthy on the proceeds. Also, the author uses very out of the way Indian periodicals about TB to try and remove the well established fact that Katherine suffered from gonorrhoea, whilst at the same time admitting that Murry had it and may have infected Katherine! The late Anthony Alpers' biography of Katherine is far and away the better book and a reader will learn far more about Katherine Mansfield from him than in this piecemeal biography.
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