Miss Brill Questions and Answers
by Katherine Mansfield

Miss Brill book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Why the name "Brill" is chosen in "Miss Brill" by Katherine Mansfield?

Expert Answers info

Jay Gilbert, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Lecturer

bookB.A. from University of Oxford

bookM.A. from University of Oxford

bookPh.D. from University of Leicester


calendarEducator since 2017

write2,289 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

I would add to the existing educator comments the fact that, while "Brill" is a real, although relatively uncommon, name in the United Kingdom, the word "brill" at the time of Mansfield's writing would have been far more commonly heard in another context—that of the brill fish. Mansfield's short story predates the use of "brill" as a common shortening of "brilliant," although the use of the word "brilliantly" in the opening line of the story does invite an association between this and Miss Brill's name. It is likely that the audience would have made a connection between Miss Brill and the North Atlantic flatfish brill, similar to turbot, which appears with frequency on menus in the United Kingdom.

This, in connection with the "motionless" air, the "faint chill" and the fact that Miss Brill is "glad that she had decided on her fur" leads to an association between Miss Brill and a "cold fish"—that is, someone both physically and emotionally cold or reserved. The idiom "cold fish"...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 702 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)


calendarEducator since 2016

write7,429 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write13,728 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


yesimyilmaz | Student

'Brill' is the name of a common deep-sea flatfish having the ability to match its colour to the surroundings.