Watch and Listen: Faith Binckes on Katherine Mansfield

In this podcast (video/audio), Dr Faith Binckes explains why modernist short story writer and critic Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) is a great writer, highlighting her involvement with the 1911-1913 periodical Rhythm, edited by her second husband John Middleton Murry.

Katherine Mansfield was originally from New Zealand but came to London in 1903.  She was a prolific story writer, whose talent made Virginia Woolf envious.  Mansfield’s two best known collections are Bliss and Other Stories (1920) and The Garden Party and Other Stories (1922).  Mansfield died in January, 1923 of pulmonary tuberculosis.

Dr Binckes’ podcast  focuses on Mansfield’s early involvement with Rhythm, which she wrote for under a number of pseudonyms, supported financially, and edited.  Dr. Binckes discusses how three stories from 1912 – ‘The Woman at the Store’, ‘How Pearl Button Was Kidnapped’, and ‘Sunday Lunch’ – illustrate different facets of Mansfield’s writing.  Though she has in the past often been considered a domestic writer of women’s and children’s concerns, these earlier versions of stories play with a colonial New Zealand setting, deal with fairytale and race, and poke fun at the London literati, respectively.  Mansfield’s use of New Zealand is especially interesting in these early stories, as these details were often written out when the stories were published in book form.  The periodical versions thus allow the reader to experience Mansfield’s original intentions for her stories.

For more on Katherine Mansfield, try the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, which provides access to Mansfield’s stories and some letters, as well as Mansfield-related images.

Other good resources are the Katherine Mansfield Society and Kathleen Jones’ Mansfield website, which is a shared resource of research accumulated by Jones in writing her recent biography of Katherine Mansfield.

Issues of Rhythm and other modernist periodicals such as Wyndham Lewis’ vorticist journal Blast can be viewed in digitized form thanks to Brown University and the University of Tulsa’s Modernist Journals Project.

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