For at least thirty years after her death, the public’s interest in Katherine Mansfield’s tragic, short life overshadowed what little critical attention her literary works attracted. Born to a large, upper-middle-class Wellington family, at age fourteen Mansfield traveled to England to attend Queen’s College. In England, her contemporaries viewed her as a colonial, and as a result, as somewhat of an outsider. Upon graduating at age eighteen, she returned to New Zealand, only to find that she was equally out of place in what she now viewed as a provincial and cultureless New Zealand. Her two-year stay in New Zealand did prove fruitful, however: During this time she developed a taste for the writings of Oscar Wilde and the other aesthetes, and she began to experiment with a series of pseudonyms, identities, and sexualities. She also traveled around New Zealand, collecting impressions of colonial and family life that would surface in her some of her best stories.
After returning to England, getting pregnant, suffering a miscarriage, and marrying and leaving a man she hardly knew, Mansfield began her career as a writer, publishing her first collection of stories, In a German Pension. The same year she met John Middleton Murry and embarked on a tempestuous romantic and literary relationship that would continue until her death. With Murry, Mansfield wrote for and helped edit Rhythm, The Signature, and The Athenaeum...
(The entire section is 440 words.)