'Katherine Mansfield Today' Blog

The KM Today Blog has only been made possible thanks to the very generous funding of the Southern Trust, to whom the Katherine Mansfield Society extends its grateful thanks.

What was KM thinking and writing 90 years ago today? The ‘KM blog’ posts daily extracts of her letters and notebooks written almost 90 years ago...
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31 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dear Mr Pinker,
   Many thanks for your letter.
   First, in regard to the novel - I may and I may not write one. But in any case it is so uncertain that I should greatly prefer that it should not be mentioned in any negotiations. I know myself well enough to assure you that the only safe moment for mentioning a novel by me is when you have the MS of it actually in your hands.
   Second, as to leaving Constables. Constables have treated me well enough; but I am under no sort of obligation to them. As I am largely dependent on my work, I naturally wish to go to the publisher who will pay me best. But I should like Constables to be given the refusal of my next book of stories at the best price offered for it by anyone else.
   Third, with regard to the serial rights of my next book of stories I have already promised the British serial rights of. . . a sequence of twelve short stories to Mr Clement Shorter for the "Sphere". This sequence will (according to my present plans) form the principal long story in my new book, and be a third part of the ‘story' which began with "Prelude" and was continued in "At The Bay". I have already mentioned something of this to you, I believe. I mention it again because it seems that it may be a hindrance to your offering the serial rights and the book rights of my next volume of stories together to the same publisher.
   I hope this will give you a clear idea of my position.
                Yours sincerely,
             Katherine Mansfield
 [To J. B. Pinker, 30 March 1922.]

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30 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

   Yes, I too was very interested in Sullivan's review, though I didn't agree with it all. For instance his quotation from Tolstoi "There are no heroes only people". I believe there are heroes. And after all it was Tolstoi who made the remark who was - surely - a large part of a hero himself. And I don't believe in the limitation of man; I believe in "the heights". I can't help it; I'm forced to. It seems to me that very feeling of inevitability that there is in a great work of art is a proof - a profession of faith on the part of the artist that this life is not all. (Of course Im not talking of personal immortality as we were taught to imagine it.) If I were to agree with Sullivan Id have to believe that the mind is supreme. But I dont - not by a long long chalk. The mind is only the fine instrument its only the slave of the soul. I do agree that with a great many artists one never sees the master, one only knows the slave. And the slave is so brilliant that he can almost make you forget the absence of the other. But it is only really living when one acknowledges both - or so it seems to me - and great art is achieved when the relation between these two is perfected. But its all very difficult. [To Richard Murry, 29 March 1922.]

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29 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dear Ida
  Your As [Aylesburys] have just been and gone. I thought they were nice girls. What skin hair teeth the young one has! Youth itself is beauty - and health. Theres no other beauty I feel after feasting on that smiling creature in her white felt hat and big coat. They delivered the parcel. I was v. thrilled by the oatmeal bags & the honourable wounds in the stockings were miracles of fine surgery. I feel most rich. I shall be able to change my stockings once a fortnight now instead of once a month. And where did the knickers come from? Such good quality too. The blue slip looks very pretty & nice. I'll put it on when winter goes again. The girls babbled away about that strange person called Miss Baker. She'd been with them to the station, sat on their boxes, packed them, got her P.Gs and was ever so pleased to have them. They thought she might stay up there. She liked it so. And spring had come & gone & they'd had to give away 1/2 pots of jam and whole coat hangers at the last. It was a dear little flat - it was indeed! But the mosquitoes in Venice were awful. One saw nothing but woke a fright. And the Mystery was the girl with us wasn't touched. Picnics in the summer were also very nice but Edith wasn't there then. And it seemed from her letters she had a little second hand shop. If you had a jumble sale there was such a rush from miles around you had to have the police. Very fond of Wingley. And the balcony was lovely, too.
 [To Ida Baker, 29 March 1922.]

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28 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

My Darling Marie
   One blessed thing about Paris is there is a Sunday post. It brought me your most welcome letter today, and I am answering bang off because I particularly enjoy a chat with you on Sundays. I don't know why, exactly. It seems the day for it. Perhaps its a reminiscence of the old ‘47' days. We have been having just the same due East weather - too fierce for words. Snow, hail, a bitter wind and that quite peculiar wet slate pencil coldness which I hate above all other varieties. I am waiting until the weather changes before I show any new leaves. As soon as I do I'll let you know, dear. But this temperature keeps me very tied up. A great bore. Marie I love domestic details in a letter. After all one tells the other items of news to the outside world. But when you say you've just made your second batch of marmalade I feel as though I had run in & were watching you hold the bottle up to the light, or waiting to see the result of a fresh cooking experiment! Its as though we still shared part of our lives and that is a precious feeling to me.
   Rosie's letter was a gem of the first water, my dear! When I came to the bee stinging her leg I jumped up and down in bed like a baby in its pram. It was too pa for words. And the bit about all the washing put away except the starched things. I read it aloud to Jack who thoroughly appreciated it too. He has adopted all my memories of people to such an extent that its quite hard to believe he does not really know the people.
 [To Charlotte Beauchamp Perkins, 26 March 1922.]

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27 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dear Michael Sadleir,
   Many thanks for your letter. About In a German Pension. Even if it did sell moderately well it would antagonise people - and rightly - to such a degree that my next book would stand a very poor chance. Its awfully bad. There's a kind of odious smartness about it which would make any decent critic or reader writhe. No amount of revision would make it presentable. Id much rather sit tight on its grave.
   Yes, the curly blue hyacinth blue of Jack's cover made me groan for envy. It is most beautiful. Its very kind of you to say I may have my red jacket changed if the G.P. should reach a third impression.
   What a curse this strike must be!
                    Yours
             Katherine Mansfield. [To Michael Sadleir, 25 March 1922.]

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26 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

   No - no - hara-kiri is wrong. Why not be a moralist then? But is it to be a moralist - simply to tell someone who does not know what must be done? To share one's discoveries? Even if they don't agree it seems to me you are bound to tell them what you have found best to do. But I know there is an objection to this, and I have been called an ‘interfering schoolmistress' for it. I dont care; I shall go on being one. Of course there must be no violence and no tub-thumping. The other person must think they are having tea with jam. It is however, all rather difficult.
   Manoukhin says that after this week I shall begin to get better. You know there is a grosse reaction after the 5th seance which lasts for about 3 weeks when one is worse in every way. I am at the end of the 2nd week. I long to be better. 8 weeks in a hotel bedroom, never going out once except to the clinic is very deadly. He won't even let me go for a little drive yet. But its not long now.
   Yes I knew M. & H. [Merezhkovsky and Hippius] were liars about Gorki. There was a black stain of malice on every page that had his name. Hippius, too, for a woman of imagination, told awful bangers about her ‘cahiers'. She only had the one, you remember, and after it was filled she wrote on the cover and the lining and under the lining and so on. But no cahier on earth could have been big enough for all she wrote. She would say "I have just found a place for a few lines more" and then followed pages and pages with even quotations, of poetry! This is very inartistic.
 [To S. S. Koteliansky, 25 March 1922.]

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25 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dear Ida
   Your letter has come. But first, Ive just made £20 out of the blue so tell me how money is - send me the bills that remain & Ill let you have a cheque. Do, please!
   I felt after I had sent you my letter that perhaps I had not explained enough. I was fearfully busy and rather indisposed. Im glad you have given the Belgians - will give them - their congé. No, its not that I think you foolish. I still absolutely and entirely disagree that the behaviour of such a woman as you described & said even E. didn't think she would work for could be put right in a few days. That may be because you don't think imaginatively of what she could do to the linen, the carpets, the few kitchen things, Mrs M's china - and so on and so on. On your showing any tenant is a possible tenant - ‘all can be put right'. But that really is not true. Its childish, surely. You know a dirty coarse untidy woman can ruin a house in a week - or you ought to know such things by now. It makes me feel despairing that I have to write these things to you. Do you think I like writing them? I hate doing so with all my heart! Must I go on and say a dirty carpet is a damaged carpet, a broken breakfast set can be replaced - true f but at what a cost! Oh, its all infinitely boring and unpleasant. And don't you see that if Mrs M. knows you are there, she will accept the woman as much because you have seen her and not really objected as because of her references. No, I still think as I did!  [To Ida Baker, 25 March 1922.]

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24 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

   What a letter you have sent me! If I could hope one of my stories had given you one moment of the happiness you have given me I would feel less at a loss how to thank you. I have sat here, looking at the pages, and thinking "So she felt like that about The Stranger, she notices Florrie the cat, she understood my poor old Ma Parker and Miss Brill. . . "
   For it's not your praise I value most (though, of course, one does like praise) it's the fact that you have so beautifully, so generously seen what I was trying to express. It is a joy to write stories but nothing like the joy of knowing one has not written in vain. I have lived too remote from people for the last four years seeing nobody except my husband for months on end - And that makes one a little bit frightened sometimes lest one has lost touch with life. But a letter like yours is such encouragement that the only way I can thank you is by trying to write better. . . You say scarcely anything about the big black holes in my book (like the servant's afternoon out.) But I know they are there. I must mend them next time.
   How glad I am that you did not listen to the person who said you had "much better not." One does not expect such letters - how could one - few people are rich enough to be able to afford to give such presents.   [To Mrs. Oliver Onions, 24 March 1922.]

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23 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

My Dear Elizabeth,
   I have been on the point of writing to you for days. And now - merciful Powers! - it's winter again with real live snow, and I've not been out of this hotel once since I arrived in Paris eight weeks ago except to go to the clinic and back. Oh to be on grass - fed again after all this hay and dry food. I've read Michelet and Madame d'Epinay and Remy de Gourmont (exasperating old stupid as often as not) and I cling to Shakespeare. But even Shakespeare. . . It's awful. However the Russian promises that after this week I really begin to mend, so have no right to make moan.
   But cities are the very devil, Elizabeth, if one is embalmed in them. And here's this postcard of the Chalet Soleil in summer in all its ravishing loveliness, with two perfect guardian angels, large, benign, frilly ones, in full leaf, behind it. I think they are oaks. I cherish, embedded in Twelfth Night a sprig of mignonette from the bush that ran wild in its second generation by the front door. And do you remember smelling the geraniums in the late afternoon in the hall? It seemed just the time and the place to smell those geraniums - I can't even imagine what going back there would be like; it would be too great happiness. But I shall remember that day for ever. [...]
   My book has died down. Mrs. Hamilton (Bertie's friend) tore my hair out beyond words in Time and Tide. How awful such reviews are. One's whole world trembles. John's book is just born. (Speaking confidentially to you alone) I wish I could be enthusiastic about it. It's a horrid fate. Have you read anything very good? Is your tour beginning soon?   [To Elizabeth, Countess Russell, 24 March 1922.]

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22 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dear Ida
   I have received your letter & the one for Mrs M. [Maxwell] I shall send it on. I am simply astonished that you should consider such a woman as our tenant. My dear Ida! I asked you to stay up there in our interests because I did not trust the people to know what kind of tenant would be suitable. You say to me a ‘horrid coarse dirty looking woman who might leave the house in a disgusting state'. To Mrs M. ‘I didn't much like her.' But consider what a horrible breach of faith & even decency that is with Mrs M! What are you thinking of? As to my not being responsible - nonsense! Of course I am by any honourable canon responsible. . . ‘Not even gentlefolk' & knowing that little woman you entertain the idea of letting them have it.
   I feel too bitterly ashamed to write about it any more. I would not have believed it. Either your letter to me is a greatly exaggerated account or yours to Mrs M. is a shamefully understated one.
   You have NOTHING to do with letting the house for a year, or selling it. Your one affair was to let it to SUITABLE tenants until June 27th. Thats your whole concern. You are not there as Mrs Ms agent. Nothing else is any concern of yours. .
   The Swiss affair is simply maddening. What have they to do with us? We are not responsible after Jjune. Why worry about them & whatever they may intend. Its simply confusing. Again I say if you can get P.Gs [paying guests] leave it at that. If you cant get them you'd better leave the place as soon as the chauffage can be left safely rather than make these muddles.  [To Ida Baker, 22 March 1922.]

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21 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dear Ida,
   I have been waiting for an answer to my last letter, I think, before I wrote to you. It happened on the night I sent it I had a peculiarly odious and typical dream about ‘us', and though that did not change my feelings, au fond, it made me feel that perhaps I had been premature in speaking so definitely about the future. You felt that too? Rather you were wiser than I and simply did not look so far. I think that is right. I think its best to leave the earth alone for a bit, i.e. plant nothing and try to stop cultivating anything. Let it rest as it is and let what is there either grow or die down or be scattered or flourish. By the earth I mean the basis the foundation of our relationship - the stable thing. Let it rest! Depend on me, though even when I don't write. Don't get fancies, will you? I am just the same whatever is happening.
   In the host of indefinite things there is one that is definite. There is nothing to be done for me at present. And whenever we do meet again let it be in freedom - don't do things for me! I have a horror of personal lack of freedom. I am a secretive creature to my last bones. Whether that is compatible with asking you to make me some pantaloons in April I don't quite know. Brett asked me what Id like for April - Easter and I said some fine linen. But if you feel it is not part of our compact for you to sew for me from afar I must go about with a paper ham frill on each leg instead. [To Ida Baker, 21 March 1922.]

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20 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

My dear Vera,
   Yes, I was sorry, too, that we did not meet. It was a very close shave. For I wrote that Id be in Paris in a fortnight - not a week - and at that time my X rays were not having any horrid effects. We might have seen each other and rediscovered each other. But it was not to be! I feel its a toss up whether we shall ever meet now; I am such an impermanent movable and so are you. And theres always the very good chance of a person with consumption moving off for a grim journey where she certainly wouldn't wish to be followed. But I mustn't freeze your blood, my dear, by talking about such subjects.
   Dear Marie and little J - they are a remarkable little pair, aren't they. I wonder why they don't adopt a baby each? Do you think that would interfere with their chances of matrimony? Well - not Jeanne - but Marie. A baby would be far greater fun than Kuri and Im sure if she taught one young enough she would feel it was her own. Short of marriage lm sure to be a mother is the happiest life for women who have not a profession. Perhaps Id better say a foster mother in case my Canadian sister thinks Im approving of immorality. [To Vera Beauchamp Bell, 20 March 1922.]

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19 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

My little Golden Bee,
   Ill simply indulge myself and write to you before answering all these letters. My bed is a battlefield of letters and press cuttings. I cant move a toe without a rustle of dead leaves. Oh, what a joy it will be to get to some remote place again where posts come only once a day! But - put all that away. It is all away. Let me think about April & Easter, and your letter, dearest. Ill answer the questions first. About coming here. This hotel is a bit expensive I imagine for Arthur and its not Gertler's kind. Its very big, families come. The cheapest room is 13 francs and you are obliged to take some of your meals here - lunch 9 francs, dinner 10. It wouldn't weigh on me at all to know you were all here. But I don't think either A. or G. Would care for it. And there is this to think of I cant see anyone before midi. I have to stay in bed until then and rest i.e. not talk much. Murry wont see anyone before midi. Wild horses wont drag him from his table before then. [...]
   Oh I am so longing to get over this last crisis and begin to climb the hill so that by the time you come I shall not be such a Job-in-the-ashes. Manoukhin says in eight days now the worst will be over. Its such a queer feeling. One burns with heat in one's hands & feet and bones, then suddenly you are racked with neuritis, but such neuritis that you cant lift your arm. Then ones head begins to pound. It's the moment when if I were a proper martyr I should begin to have that awful smile that martyrs in the flames put on when they begin to sizzle! But no matter - it will pass. . .  [To Dorothy Brett, 19 March 1922.]

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18 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

My darling Father,
   I can't express to you my feelings when I read your letter. How you can possibly find it in your heart to write like that to your undeserving little black sheep of a child only God knows. It wrings my heart to think of my ungrateful behaviour and I cannot understand how I have been the victim of my fearfulness and dread of misunderstanding. You have been - you are - the soul of generosity to us all. Then how - loving you as I do - feeling your sensitiveness and sympathy as I do - can I have made you suffer? It is a mystery. I sometimes wish that we could have been nearer to each other since I have been grown up and not the intolerant girl who returned to New Zealand with you years ago. But fate has willed otherwise.
   Believe me, I am not, and never shall be, unmindful of what it must have cost you to write that letter to me. Perhaps one day I shall be able to express my gratitude and love.
   My darling, it is such a joy to think we may meet this year. My letters from the girls at Wood Hay are full of your coming and the preparations for it. Everything they do seems to have the same end - Chaddie's last batch of marmalade. And they seem to have done wonders with their garden.
   My plans for the immediate future are very uncertain. I knew that in spite of the considered opinion of the Swiss doctors, Montana was too high for my heart. My lungs appeared to improve, but my heart got so much worse that I could do nothing whatever except lie in a chaise longue.  [To Harold Beauchamp, 18 March 1922.]

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17 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dear Richard,
   I must have sounded an unsympathetic and selfish creature in my last letter to you. Forgive me! It was too bad of me to crow so loudly being out of the wood (more or less) myself while my little bruvver is still tangled up in the branches. I wish I could help you a bit. Perhaps you and Jack, above a long glass of something cool under a chestnut tree in the Luxembourg Gardens will find out a way. Yes, old boy, I see your point about Art Schools. I can imagine what I should have felt with Max Pemberton telling me to "cut the cackle and come to the osses." Which is what would have happened. And I understand too why you would rather not pitch your tent in the camp of Brett and Gertler. Its difficult. But I pin my flag on Easter. [...]
   By the way. Look here. I don't agree with you about women knocking off works of art at thirty or round about and men not until fifty. Or rather I don't agree personally. I'm 33; I feel I am only just beginning to see now what it is . . . I want to do. It will take years of work to really bring it off. Ive done one or two things, like the Daughters of the Colonel which were the right kind. But one or two! Oh Richard, to be sincere I could groan at all there is to do and the tiny beginning I have made. Not a groan of misery but of impatience. Why don't I get down to it more. I must this year. But if you are right about most women I don't feel its true about me. Im one of the slow ones. . .
[To Richard Murry, 16 March 1922.]

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16 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

My lamb
   I never felt less like going back into my shell in my life. And please please don't not tell me things. That would be a punishment. I wish you would trust me a little bit more. It is my fault that you cant. I will try and mend it. And I wish you were here, this minute, in this room with me. Writing is all very well, but we could understand each other at a glance if we were together. Brett! Now I am holding your hand. Now I am talking to the solitary you and you are talking to the solitary me. We're sitting under a yellow sun umbrella on a big clump of rocks overlooking the sea. Wild lavender & rosemary grows in the rocky crannels and the sea sounds & where the wave lifts its that wonderful gold radiant colour. But we've got our backs to the world for now. Brett! When you sit down to write to me feel that I am near and that I am your secret friend who loves you. But take me! If friendship means anything it means we must be important to each other, we must make each other happy and above all we must feel sure. People who say that love and friendship depend upon the feeling of ultimate uncertainty, of danger, are all wrong. They depend on exactly the opposite feeling. Its only promiscuous, light human beings who need such a big pinch of spice to keep them going. But then so few people even want to try for love or friendship. Substitutes suit them better. Talking of this always reminds me of Lawrence who said, talking of friendship, "We must make a contract and feel it is as binding as the marriage contract, as important, as eternal."  [To Dorothy Brett, 15 March 1922.]

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15 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dear Ida
   I have just received your Sunday letter. Don't apologize for writing what you feel. Why should you? It only means I have to cry ‘De rien de rien' each time and that's silly. Heavens! What a journey it is to take one anywhere! I prove that to myself every day. I am always more or less marking out the distance, examining the map, and then failing to carry out my plans. Its rather nice to think of oneself as a sailor bending over the map of ones mind and deciding where to go and how to go. The great thing to remember is we can do whatever we wish to do provided our wish is strong enough. But the tremendous effort needed - one doesn't always want to make it, does one? And all that cutting down the jungle and bush clearing even after one has landed anywhere - its tiring. Yes, I agree. But what else can be done?What's the alternative? What do you want most to do? That's what I have to keep asking myself, in face of difficulties.
   But you are saying ‘what has this to do with our relationship?' This. We cannot live together in any sense until we - I - are am stronger. It seems to me it is my job, my fault, and not yours. I am simply unworthy of friendship, as I am. I take advantage of you, demand perfection of you, crush you. And the devil of it is that even though that is true as I write it I want to laugh. A deeper self looks at you and a deeper self in you looks back and we laugh and say ‘what nonsense'. Its very queer, Jones, isn't it?
 [To Ida Baker, 14 March 1922.]

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14 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

But do you really feel all beauty is marred by ugliness and the lovely woman has bad teeth? I don't feel quite that. For it seems to me if Beauty were absolute it would no longer be the kind of Beauty it is. Beauty triumphs over ugliness in Life. Thats what I feel. And that marvellous triumph is what I long to express. The poor man cries and the tears glitter in his beard and that is so beautiful one could bow down. Why? Nobody can say. I sit in a waiting room where all is ugly, where its dirty, dull, dreadful, where sick people waiting with me to see the doctor are all marked by suffering and sorrow. And a very poor workman comes in, takes off his cap humbly, beautifully, walks on tiptoe, has a look as though he were in church, has a look as though he believed behind that doctor's door there shone the miracle of healing. And all is changed all is marvellous. Its only then that one sees for the first time what is happening. No, I don't believe in your frowsty housemaids, really. Life is, all at one and the same time, far more mysterious and far simpler than we know. Its like religion in that. If we want to have faith, and without faith we die, we must learn to accept. Thats how it seems to me.
   How is your big still life, dearest? Dont let those people ‘worry' you. Are there daffys in London yet. My pussies lasted & lasted and were a perfect surprise. I embrace you.
               Tig who loves you. [To Dorothy Brett, 9 March 1922.]

Dear Ida
   These cuttings must go to America next week. So will you have a squiz and send them back quickly? They are just a job-lot. But if you lose them Miss there will be the d - l to pay. I hear from Constable the book is well in its 2nd edition which is not bad as there is a ‘warehouse' strike on & supplies are difficult to get. I am still waiting for mine. Reviews & letters are all I get. [...] I did happen to see one other thing which pleased me very much. In China the kettles are made with four very thin pieces of iron fastened with an air space between to the nearly flat bottom of the kettle. So that when the water heats the bubbles of steam through these slits cause the kettle to sing not like English kettles sing, but a plaintive, sweet faraway song. No house in China is complete without such a kettle.
I hope its fine again with you. It's a glorious day here - still, sunny, warm - cats sun - the basking kind. There are some very wicked bad little children in this hotel - one about 2, one about 4. They throw their bread on the floor, eat with both ends of the fork & stand up on their chairs when they want to drink. The head waiter is extremely nice to them & writes them out each a separate bill. They are lambs.
   Be well. Be happy.
             K.M. [To Ida Baker, 13 March 1922.]

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13 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Which reminds me Ive read lately 2 amazing books about present day Russia - one by Merezhkovsky and Zinaida Hippiusg and the other by Bunin. It is a very extraordinary thing that Russia can be there at our back door at furthest, and we know nothing, pay no attention, hear nothing in English. These books were in French. Both were full of threats - "You may think you have escaped. But you have not escaped. What has happened to us will happen to you. And worse. Because you have not heard our prayers." The ghastly horror and terror of that life in Petrograd is impossible to imagine. One must read it to know about it. But English people, people like us, would never survive as some of these Russian intellectuals have survived. We would die of so many things - vermin, fright, cold, hunger, even if we were not assassinated. At this present moment Life in Russia is rather like it was four centuries ago. It has simply gone back four centuries. And anyone who sympathises with Bolshevism has much to answer for. Dont you think that the head of Lenin is terrifying? Whenever I see his picture it comes over me - it is like the head of something between an awful serpent and a gigantic bug. Russia is at present like an enormous hole in the wall letting in Asia. I wonder what will happen, even in our little time. [To Dorothy Brett, 9 March 1922.]

Dear Mr Orlo Williams,
   I cannot say how happy your generous letter has made me. Thank you from my heart. It is too generous. You say nothing, or almost nothing, about the big black holes in my book which I must mend next time. But I know they are there. In fact I am so conscious of them that its awfully pleasant when a fellow-writer ignores them for a moment and says he liked the rest.
   It is a relief to me that you realise that my heart was with William in Marriage et la mode and with old Mr Neave and young Mr Dove. It makes me gasp when reviewers think I am jeering at them and poking cruel fun. When one has been away from people for so long - I have only seen glimpses of people for five years now - that is positively frightening. . .I had meant to convey that I loved them - especially the Doves. I have often wondered about their married life. How nice it is you should single
out just that story! Nobody else has. [To Orlo Williams, 11 March 1922.]

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12 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

France is a remarkable country. It is I suppose the most civilised country in the world. Book shops swarm in Paris and the newspapers are written in a way that English people would not stand for one moment. There's practically no police news. True, they did write about Landru's execution, but so well it might have been de Maupassant! They are corrupt and rotten politically, thats true. But oh, how they know how to live! And there is always the feeling that Art has its place, is accepted by everybody, by the servants, by the rubbishman as well as by all others as something important, necessary, to be proud of, Thats what makes living in France such a rest. If you stop your taxi to look at a tree the driver says "en effet cet' arbre est bien jolie" and ten to one moves his arms like branches. I learned more about France from my servant at Menton than anywhere. She was pure French, highly highly civilised, nervous, eager, and she would have understood anything on earth you wished to explain to her - in the artistic sense. The fact is they are always alive, never indifferent as the English are. England has political freedom (a terrific great thing) and poetry and lovely careless lavish green country. But Id much rather admire it from afar. English people are I think superior Germans (10 years hard labour for that remark). But its true. They are the German ideal. I was reading Goethe on the subject the other day. He had a tremendous admiration for them. But all through it one felt "so might we Germans be if only we knocked the heads of our police off". Its fascinating to think about nations and their significance in the history of the world. I mean in the spiritual history.
[To Dorothy Brett, 9 March 1922.]

My dear Mr Gerhardi,
   Please do not think of me as a kind of boa-constrictor who sits here gorged and silent after having devoured your two delightful letters, without so much as a ‘thank you'. If gratitude were the size and shape to go into a pillar box the postman would have staggered to your door days ago. But Ive not been able to send anything more tangible. I have been - I am ill. In two weeks I shall begin to get better. But just for the moment I am down below in the cabin, as it were, and the deck, where all the wise and happy people are walking up and down & Mr Gerhardi drinks a hundred cups of tea with a hundred schoolgirls is far away. But I only tell you this to explain my silence. Im always very much ashamed of being ill; I hate to plead illness. Its taking an unfair advantage. So please let us forget about it. . .
   Ive been wanting to say - how strange how delightful it is you should feel as you do about The Voyage. No one has mentioned it to me but Middleton Murry. But when I wrote that little story I felt that I was on that very boat, going down those stairs, smelling the smell of the saloon. And when the stewardess came in and said "we're rather empty, we may pitch a little" I can't believe that my sofa did not pitch. And one moment I had a little bun of silk-white hair and a bonnet and the next I was Fenella hugging the swan neck umbrella. It was so vivid - terribly vivid - especially as they drove away and heard the sea as slowly it turned on the beach. Why r I don't know.It wasn't a memory of a real experience. It was a kind of possession. [To William Gerhardi, 11 March 1922.]

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11 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dearest Brett
   I was v. glad to hear from you though you sounded rather ‘distracted'. Who is Valentine? And if she interferes with your painting why is she there? And why should not intellectuals love? What a queer idea! Whose is it? As for the Bloomsburys I never give them a thought. Do they still exist. They are rather pathetic in their way, but bad people to think about or consider - a bad influence. And what have I to guard against? It sounds very frightening. As to my being humble - oh dear. Thats between me and my God. I should retire behind 500 fans if anyone ever told me to be humble! You don't imagine that reviews and letters and requests for photographs and so on make me proud - do you? Its a deep deep joy to know one gives pleasure to others but to be told that increases ones store of love not pride. Also what has it got to do with ones work? I know what I have done and what I must do, nothing and nobody can change that.
   A whiff of London came from the last pages of your letter - a whiff of years and years ago, a kind of ashy feeling. Oh, I shall never go back to England again except en passant. Anywhere anywhere but England! As I write theres a sound of sweet scolding from the pigeons outside. Now it rains, now its sunny. The March lion is chasing the March lamb but not very seriously - the lamb doesn't mind much. They have an understanding. I was reading La Fontaine's Fables in bed early. Do you know them? They are fearfully nice - too nice for words. What a character the ant is - a little drop of bitterness and fury and slamming her door in everyone's face; and the frog - I am so sorry for him. He had a sister, too, she should have warned him. Instead she stood by and gloated. La Fontaine must have been an adorable man - a kind of Fabre, very distrait very amorous. He didn't even know his own children. He forgot their faces and passed them by in the street. I don't expect they cared. [To Dorothy Brett, 9 March 1922.]

About the clothes. I am afraid my bundle would not do for a jumble sale. Old combinations, knickers etc could never be displayed before the curate. You cant have a jumble sale without a curate. If the A. [Aylesbury] girls really do want a large unwieldy parcel about the size of a large pillow they are thrice welcome. But warn them - really warn them! And wouldn't they perhaps bring that blue slip & post it in Paris? It would get here more quickly. My shawl mustn't go through the post unless necessary. Its too valuable. Perhaps later on someone whom you know would deliver ithere. . . The slip is just what I want, thank you. I wear it outside with my blue serge marine coat and skirt.
Tell me: Does E. still want her character? I must send it. Is she happy? Do you need money? Please reply to these questions.
   Yes, I sent you a card the day before I wrote to you last about the keys of I my boxes. I suppose it went astray. I feel letters must have gone astray from that end, too. But perhaps not.
   This letter which I send from J. speaks for itself. I had a terrific adventure with her dipilatory. It certainly does remove hair. It would remove anything - I think it is gunpowder. However I shall try again. I had an afternoon when I thought I was disfigured for life and should have to paint my whole face navy blue to match my upper lip. Its awful stuff to get off What a curious, secret life one does lead to be sure! [To Ida Baker, 11 March 1922.]

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10 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Yes, large towns are the absolute devil! Oh, how glad I shall be to get away. The difficulty to work is really appaling. One gets no distraction. By distraction I mean the sky and the grass and trees & little birds. I absolutely pine for the country (not English). I could kiss the grass. Its true there is a jampot & a jug in my room full of small daffodils. But exquisite though they are they keep on making me wonder where they grow. Its wickedness to live among stones and chimneys. I keep on thinking of lying under a tree in some well hidden place (alive not dead.) But this is not a complaint. It may have the ghost of a moral in it, a "dont settle in a town whatever you do". But I don't think you will. Do let me see Olive's letter.
   I hope your 3 girls turn up & not the family. I wish you could stay up there for a bit if you like it. It seems to me right for the moment. You felt the place suited you spiritually when you just got to know it & that was the right feeling, I believe. I wonder if the Palace would be tolerable? Another small barbed thrust "I saw you in the Palace mood. . . " I don't care. I do think it might be very interesting. Hudson is an extraordinary decent man - really he is. I have had quite remarkably simple nice letters from him here. He may be stupid but all doctors are that. And I always rather took to that matron. However - its a long way off Wingley I presume would be a kind of Red Cross scout. Which reminds me. After I had unpacked the boxes I had all the symptoms of terrific bites. They have gone off this morning. But I was certain last night that Wing had carefully put in a flea for a surprise for me. Have you ever found one of the biters? Are they fleas or what?
[To Ida Baker, 7 March 1922.]

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9 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Told you your shares are now 32/6.
Tuesday. Warm, thundery weather.
Is your red dress a success?
My dear Ida
   Thats the kind of letter for me! Now keep that in mind as your ideal, ‘focus' on it and Ill never be cross again. I cannot tell you how relieved I am to know what you are doing and that you are happy doing it. Thats the important thing. At four oclock this morning I had decided to write to you again and really tell you what I thought of you for keeping me for so long without any detailed news. Nothing but chauffage and money! When I wanted to know what you were doing, thinking, feeling. However, this is a noble effort and so I say no more Betsy.
   Alas for the Distressed Gentlewomen. How can I get this vast parcil across? I shall have to write to the English clergyman in Paris if I can find his address somehow. But there is so much that they (the poor) would call fancy dress - little jackets and so on. As to woven combinations (the very height of fancy dress) I seem to have collected the things or they have bred. They are my horror and my box was stuffed with them like peas in a pod. Away they must go. All my things looked rather as though they had been washed through the customs - they are very much exhausted. But even a change is such a relief that I fully expect a low hiss of admiration when I go to lunch today in different shoes. I suppose your Miss Yates would not know of a worthy charity in Paris that would call for a bundle? Is it worth asking?
[To Ida Baker, 7 March 1922.]

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8 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Most dear Elizabeth,
   Your letter about my Garden-Party was almost ‘too good to be true'. I could not believe it; I kept taking peeps at it all day. I know of course you are far too generous to me. But oh, dear Elizabeth how you make me long to deserve your praise. My stories aren't half good enough yet; I shall try with all my heart to make the next book better.
   Its rather hard to work just now. I am at the moment when one feels the reaction. After five doses of Xrays one is hotted up inside like a furnace and one's very bones seem to be melting. I suppose this is the moment when real martyrs break into song but I can think of nothing but fern grots, cucumbers and fans, and they won't mix in a story. However this stage does not last.
   I am glad you are going back to England - to spring. There is new green on some of the trees already and even those that are still bare have a hazy, thoughtful look. John brought me a bunch of daffodils yesterday, the little half wild kind that smell sweet - far lovelier than the others, I always think. Garden daffodils are so plump and self-contained, rather like ducks. I feel I shall never look at a bud or a flower again without thinking of you, and that there is an extra reason for saying - as one does - Praise Him - as one smells the petunias. I still ‘in vacant or in pensive mood' go over those bunches you brought last summer - disentangle the sweet peas, marvel at the stickiness of the petunia leaves, come upon a sprig of very blithe carnations and shiver at the almost unearthly freshness of the nasturtiums. What joy it is that these things cannot be taken away from us. Time seems to make them fairer than ever. [To Elizabeth, Countess Russell, 6 March 1922.]

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7 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

It's a joy to know that The Garden Party has given you pleasure and especially that you like my poor old girls, the ‘Daughters'. I shall never forget lying on that wretched little sofa in Mentone writing that story. I couldn't stop. I wrote it all day and on my way back to bed sat down on the stairs and began scribbling the bit about the meringues.
  But your beautiful letter is too generous. I can't pretend praise isn't awfully nice! And especially as I have not heard one word from anyone whom I know personally since the book appeared. Reviews there have been and a few notes from strangers. But that's not at all the same. I didn't expect to hear and yet my ‘subconscious mind' has been intensely interested in whether there are any letters or not! I don't think it's bad pride that makes one feel like that. It's the "You feel that too? You know what I was trying to say," feeling which will be with me while life lasts. Or so I feel. I treasure your letter, even though my Garden Party doesn't deserve it.
  Brett sent me a couple of pages from Vogue with reproductions of Gertler's paintings.
  I cannot say what is happening. I believe - just blindly believe. After all illness is so utterly mysterious that I don't see why one shouldn't recover as mysteriously. I have a sneaking feeling all the time that Coué is really the man and Coue would only charge 3d where this man squeezes three hundred francs a time out of me. Happily I have saved £100 so I can pay. But if it is all my eye at the end I shall look awfully silly and dear knows what will happen. But anything, anything to be out of the trap - to escape, to be free. [To Ottoline Morrell, 4 March 1922.]

If this treatment is a success we shall spend the summer in Germany, in some small place. Richard I couldn't live in a city again, or I feel I could not. There seems no point in it. As for meeting people and so on Id rather see them just now and again, rarely, in intervals of work. Parties, and literary society - I flee from the very idea. And it seems to me one cant write anything worth the name unless one lives - really lives. Talk and all that kind of thing is a kind of frittering away. Perhaps that is old age. But the whole secret of doing anything is to gather oneself together and to live in a way that makes that as easy as it can be made. I don't see how it is to be done without solitude and a simple way of living. Do you agree? Tell me if you think its the beginning of my grey hairs.
   Jack is very well. I think the change is really deep in Jack since he left London. He really is happier. If you come over I like to think of you both trundling off to look at pictures together.
   I ought not to be writing this letter. I have a brain like a sawdust this afternoon. But I wanted to just greet you - just wave as you go on your way. Give my love to Mother. Forgive my dullness.
   I press your hand
                Katherine.  [To Richard Murry, 3 March 1922.]

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6 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dear Michael Sadleir,
   I enclose this letter from the Sketch. By the same post I received one from the literary editor of The Nation saying that he had been sent no review copy but had had to telephone specially for it. This is indeed worrying especially in the case of two papers which, it stood to reason, would give the book a ‘show'. And there is a Miss Evans, London Correspondent of the New Zealand Associated Press, 85 Fleet St E.C.4 who has written to me asking for a review copy. I think it would be of the greatest advantage to the book to let her have one.
              Yours ever
            Katherine Mansfield,
I think its very important that the weekly illustrated papers like The Sphere, The Tatler, Vogue etc. should have prompt review copies of my book. I fancy they do more good to the sales than any others. They gave me such long reviews last time.
[To Michael Sadleir, 1 March 1922.]

Richard
   I wrote to you a few days ago and now I cant remember if I sent that letter or if it disappeared. This is very bad. In case it didn't go I shall send this note for I am thinking of you. I wish you could see the marigolds on our table. They are like little stars in their own firmament - Jack bought them. They are good flowers to buy. Remember them when you set up house. They last well and are always so full of life. There is also, little painter brother, a fine sky this afternoon - big rolling clouds. In fact its spring here - and has been for days. Its quite warm. Once February is over there is no stopping it. All the same it seems almost too good to be true. I hardly dare to look ahead and think of what is in store for all of us. And I always have the feeling that there may have been other springs but wait till you see this one. Think of lying under a tree again or paddling in a sunny river or just feeling the air is enough.
   Its nice here. It would be splendid if you managed to come across at Easter time. Jack and I seem to have settled down very easily. We have two good rooms and a bathroom at the end of a corridor down a little passage of our own. And its as private as if we were in a flat. We work, play chess, read, Jack goes out, we make our own tea and work again. . . and its all easy and pleasant. [To Richard Murry, 3 March 1922.]

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5 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dear Ida
Your Ash Wednesday letter is rather ashy. I confess it makes me feel impatient. Will you in reply to this speak out. Say exactly what you want. I can't tell. I must know.
(1) We can afford £2.10.0 to £3 a week quite well. I would greatly prefer the chalet not to be left. If it costs a little more it would be far better than leaving the keys with anyone.
(2) No. While you are there please keep Ernestine. That is final. So for heaven's sake don't go on about it. Rubbish! I must say it all sounds dreadfully ineffectual and vague & foolish. If a pensionnaire did ‘turn up' as you say what about your servant? You must have one. In any case theres no need for E. to go. And no earthly need to work miracles at keeping down the chauffage. Ugh! I think its extremely ungracious about the cheque. However, if you feel like that you must act like that. Its not good or right or splendid. If you had said: ‘How nice to get the cheque. I shall have a small spree on the spot.' I should have been delighted and warmed. As it is I dont feel at all warmed! Please take things a little more lightly. There is no need to go on ‘worrying'. This is what happens when you burrow undergound & suggest and think and so on. Why? Its so unworthy! Please just say out what you mean. You know what I think now and its final. I cant write every day about it.
And I am sorry I can't send the reviews. I must keep them at present in case I need them for America. I shall not throw them away however & later on if you care to see them I will send them to you then. If I get duplicates you shall have them.
But cheer up.
              Yours ever
                         K.M.
Did you know Captain Bernhard at the Palace is dead of influenza?
[To Ida Baker, 3 March 1922.]

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4 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

I had 2 letters today from Father enclosing letters from my cousins who live down the Sounds - all about hay and crops as high as the fences and perfect tirades about the spots on butterflies' wings and the colour of foxgloves. One of these letters was from a woman who has nine children - my uncle Stanleys wife. The other from a woman who has about £150 a year all told to live on with her husband. Such people are the salt of the earth. The longer I live the more I realise that any life but a life remote, self-sufficient, simple, eager, and joyful, is not worth living. Cities are ashes. And people know it. They want the other thing; they feel their own ‘poverty' in their several ways. It is sad. However the only way to help others is to live a good life oneself Its a roundabout way but I see no other. But these Beauchamps down the Sounds are right. They are inheriting the earth. How I wish I could drive off in a little spring cart & have tea and scones with them & hear about Norman and Betty and Jess and the rest. I hope your May doesn't go in for town life and trying to be a social success in Bulawayo. I hope Roger gets a real chance. Youll have to gallop off there one day and look after him if you love him. Dont you feel that?
This is just a little chat with you. Now I must work. I have masses to do.
Keep well!
              Yours ever
                 K.M.[To Ida Baker, 2 March 1922.]

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3 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

By the way do you remember the brown china bear on the top of the black what-not? I can see it! And I happened to read in the Daily News the other day that the "latest fashion" was a china mustard pot - very chic in the shape of a tomato. This was one of Aunt Kittys wedding presents at Clifton Terrace. So wags the world. I expect all her mustard pots have been sterling silver long ere now not only with the lion on them, but shaped into roaring lions with their tails for spoons. Oh dear, having got so far I do wish I could go further and find myself with you two clears, in your own home. I hope your weather has improved. It is still warm here. All the puddings have changed into little ices in frills and I was quite glad of the electric fan playing on my fried whiting at lunch! We shall have very special tea parties when you come in May. Jack has discovered a marvellous shop for cakes. Not those fat Jewish cakes with a bird's nest in icing on the top and a chocolate bird sitting on plaster of Paris eggs but short crisp delicious tiny ones - all kinds, little whiffs. These with his pate de foie sandwiches are a tea for the Duchess of Devonshire. But I keep on planning what we shall do in May. I am so glad this hotel is so good. You and J. can have a very large double room with your private bathroom etc. for 25 francs a day. A most sumptuous bathroom and ones own little hall door shutting one off from the outside world. Such a point in an hotel. I do hate the feeling that everybody is running past ones very toes as one lies in bed. I am sure you will love Paris. It is a beautiful city. So airy, on such a noble scale. [To Charlotte Beauchamp Perkins and Jeanne Beauchamp Renshaw, 1 March 1922.]

Send this cutting back - will you. I thought you might care to see the kind of thing they are saying.
My dear ida
   Your Saturday-Sunday letter gives me the impression that you are unhappy and restless. Is that so? Tell me! What do you do now. I suppose I hope and trust the ‘settling' of the chalet is over. All is in order? And Ernestine capable of doing all that is to be done. Do you see your girls? Do you find people to talk to? How do you spend your days. I should be very interested to know. Dont focus on Wingley, tho' he is a nice cat. You have books in plenty and wool. But books & wool don't make life. I don't want you to feel stranded up there - cast away. ‘At any rate' here is March. If you feel you can't stick it just take someone until the chaffauge is no longer necessary and then shut all up. If it must be so - it must. All is well here. I have lovely marigolds on my table. Flowers are cheap now. Reviews of my new book are pouring in. They are extremely favourable so far - much more so than Bliss. This is indeed surprising. I have not sent you a copy because I have not got one to send. The second ‘batch' has never turned up. [To Ida Baker, 2 March 1922.]

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2 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Darling Marie & Jeanne,
   Will you accept a double letter this time? I can't tell you how I appreciated yours. Praise from other people is all very well but it is nothing compared to ones family. And you always have believed in me so generously Marie that I am more than glad I have repaid a little of thatbelief. It is only a little - a drop in the ocean. Ive got an awfully long way to go before I write a book that counts. I marvel at the kindness of the papers. But I expect some are saving up to give me a whacking.
   So old V. [Vera] has gone back to Canada. I wonder if I shall see her and her boys. She feels further away from me now that she has been over here and we have not met. Has she changed much? But thats hard for you to say for you have been seeing her during these years; we haven't met since John was new-born. Elizabeth says Mack is very prosperous. I always thought he would be. I hope V. has her share of it - I mean takes her share. She always erred on the too generous side.
   Your crocus border fills me with envy. How I love them! Its strange we should all of us Beauchamps have this passion for flowers. I shall never forget the large glass vase of sweet peas in my bedroom at Woodhay when I spent that weekend with you nor the easter lilies in the drawing-room. They sit in my mind, fresh and lovely for ever. At the moment I have a large bunch of the good old fashioned marigolds on my table, buds, leaves and all. They take me back to that black vase of ours at 752, one that you used to like to put mignonette in. It was a charming vase and well in the van of fashion, wasn't it.  [To Charlotte Beauchamp Perkins and Jeanne Beauchamp Renshaw, 1 March 1922.]

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1 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Dearest Marie
   ln case you should think I am rather a little pig of a sneak not to send you a copy of my new book - its because I can't get copies over here for the moment - I mean extra copies. All I have had I have been obliged to send to journalists. Thats why.
   Would you pass this first review on to Pa? It sounds very powerful, doesn't it. But it is rather my eye. I thought people would say I was rather sentimental!
   What is the weather like in England. Here it is Spring - really Spring, sunny, absolutely warm and the kind of weather that makes one long to put out new leaves at any rate one new leaf in the shape of a hat. Don't you know that mood when you keep on imaging spring hats - curled and crisp and light after these substantial winter ones?
   Forgive writing. I am in bed & my back has no backbone. I feel so much better - its almost frightening. Tell J. not to forget me. 
   Ever your devoted
                         K. [To Charlotte Beauchamp Perkins, late February 1922.]

But for the last four-five years I have been ill and have lived either in the S. of France or in a remote little chalet in Switzerland - always remote, always cut off, seeing hardly anybody, for months seeing really nobody except my husband and our servant and the cat and "the people who come to the back door". Its only in those years Ive really been able to work and always my thoughts and feelings go back to New Zealand - rediscovering it, finding beauty in it, re-living it. Its about my Aunt Fan who lived up the road I really want to write, and the man who sold goldfinches, and about a wet night on the wharf, and Tarana Street in the Spring. Really, I am sure it does a writer no good to be transplanted - it does harm. One reaps the glittering top of the field but there are no sheaves to bind. And there's something, disintegrating, false, agitating in that literary life. Its petty and stupid like a fashion. I think the only way to live as a writer is to draw upon one's real familiar life - to find the treasure in that as Olive Schreiner did. Our secret life, the life we return to over and over again, the "do you remember" life is always the past. And the curious thing is that if we describe this which seems to us so intensely personal, other people take it to themselves and understand it as if it were their own. [To Sarah Gertrude Millin, early March 1922.]

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