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Katherine Mansfield


Inducted 2010
Student at Fitzherbert Terrace School from 1900-1902

This posthumous award recognises the contribution Katherine Mansfield  made to New Zealand literature.


Katherine Mansfield, for much of the 20th century was one of New Zealand’s best known writers. Her most popular and best loved short stories recall her childhood and love of New Zealand. Largely writing in England or France her work found a place in the modernist literary society of the period. Although much of her work was completed overseas, experts acknowledge that she herself considered herself a New Zealander  “But New Zealand is in my very bones.” 

A student at Fitzherbert Terrace School from 1900-1902 Kathleen Beauchamp was not an outstanding pupil although the first school history notes that “she lived though her schooldays with emotional intensity”.  In 1903 she and her family left New Zealand for London where her father had a position in the Bank of New Zealand.  Their return in 1906 was not a happy one for Kathleen who having experienced the excitement and sophistication of London longed to be back there. Although her father represented much of what his daughter disliked, he did support her ambition to be a writer and eventually allowed her to return to England. 

Here, although continually troubled by illness, her writing began to be recognised through publication in magazines and developing friendships in a wide circle of famous literary individuals. Her place in New Zealand literature was largely recognised after her death. Her work is largely autobiographical using events and people to convey a message, and in her New Zealand stories these are largely experiences New Zealand readers are familiar with.
 
“You see, to me life and work are two things indivisible, it is only being true to life that I can be true to art – and to be true to life is to be good, sincere, simple and honest”
Picture: Katherine Mansfield, circa 1920. Location, and photographer, unidentified: (Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image)