'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...
Read more about this Blog   Original poem by Julie Kennedy

We encourage interactive use – please post your comments at the end of each daily entry and follow our guidelines for posting comments.

 

11 August 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

My dearest Father,
   I have delayed answering your letter - which I was most happy to receive - because I felt there was a possibility that I might be forced, for reasons of health only, to make a little change in my plans. I hoped this would not be necessary, but it is. To "come straight to the horses" - my heart has been playing up so badly this last week that I realise it is imperative for me to see Doctor Sorapure before I go on with my Paris treatment. As I am due to begin this Paris treatment on September lst, I have decided that my best plan is to come straight to London next Tuesday, arriving Wednesday, 16th. Until I have had an opinion on the present condition of my heart I am really a thoroughly unsatisfactory companion. I could neither go about with you and the dear girls, nor add to your enjoyment in any way. And to sit with me in the bedroom of a foreign hotel would be extremely small beer indeed! And I could not forgive myself if my disquieting symptoms became aggravated in Paris and caused you uneasiness. You know what a heart is like! [To Harold Beauchamp, 10 August 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

10 August 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Have you read Aarons Rod - Lawrence's latest book? There seems to me something very fine in it - so vigorous - so full of growth. I had a long miserable disgusted look at Rebecca Wests Judge. Ugh! How dreadful! I felt horribly ashamed of it.
   Yes, wasn't the Times shameful about Proust. The coarseness of the mind that could write so! But never has English criticism been at such a low ebb as at this moment. Nobody has anything to say. As for the Nation it is as dead as mutton.
   A storm rages while I write this dull letter. It sounds so splendid, I wish I were out in it.
   Murry has spent the summer in the mountains. At present he is with Elizabeth - the real one, of course. He looks forward, I know, to seeing you next month. I go to Paris in about a fortnight. But my plans are very vague. I hope to spend the winter in Italy. Murry sent me Sydney's letter about his novel. I envied him such a letter with all my heart. Goodbye, dearest Violet. The time I spent with you & Sydney in Paris is so vivid. I love to think of it. With much love to you both.
               Ever yours
                       K.M. [To Violet Schiff, 9 August 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

9 August 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Dearest Violet,
   Forgive me for not answering your dear letter sooner. I wanted to & I could not. Do you know the mood when one really cant write a letter? It sounds absurd, but if anyone will understand it - you will. . .
   I am constantly thinking of you and Sydney. I wonder when we shall meet again? I only stayed a week or two in the mountains, then I telegraphed Jones to join me and we came down here where we've been ever since. Its a relief to have Jones again. I have almost made her swear never to leave me even if I drive her away. I have been working here after a fashion but Ive had trouble with my heart & again I can't walk & Ive fever - die alter geschichte which doesn't bleib imrner treu to anyone. However, there it is. Perhaps one ought to learn to accept it as one's destiny and not fight against it. Who knows? Its hard to decide.
   The author of Futility is only known to me through letters. I call him in my mind my little undergraduate. He wrote to me, from Oxford last summer, and later sent me the MSS of his novel. I helped him with it a little & suggested a publisher. Since then we have kept in touch. He sounds a very delightful, impulsive, young man. Full of enthusiasm. But what I like him for is I think he has real feeling. His letters breathe. Perhaps you will meet him one day. Curiously enough, I have often felt you would. I hope success will not spoil him.[To Violet Schiff, 9 August 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

8 August 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Later Your second letter has just come about Paris. But blow Paris for the moment. Don't think, my dear little precious artist, that because I am dumb until Wednesday week that I am changed a jot. For I am NOT! I loved your letter. Fancy old Sullivan in his cap with Sylvia? . . .They made such a funny drawing as you described them! I laughed as we laughed here together. Many many thanks for the hotel. Its too dear though. Its only for the Rich Bugs not for the Poor ones. But wait! I may have a small surprise for you on Wednesday week.
   What a bad man Murry is to put that tombstone in your parcel, and how just like him! Its surprising he did not ask you to take the oak chest back with you filled with books. He is having a very good time. The big lady sings something beautiful, Miss - Russian & French songs & they are very gay.
   Goodbye for now
                    Tig. [To Dorothy Brett, 7 August 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

7 August 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Dearest
   lf you don't hear from me until Wednesday week - don't mind! I can only reply to your letter by silence, & by clasping your hand. The reason is that my plans are all in the air and I am horribly tired & I must somehow finish this story. So I must retire into my shell, & be silent until Wednesday week. Then I shall send you a budget. But wait for me till then!
   All is just the same in every way. I can only do this because I know and trust you and I believe you know & trust me. Im a fearfully imperfect friend, at present. But once I get out of my silly prison I will be nicer in every way - please God. In the meantime, tho' I don't write I think about you and am as ever
              Your
               Tig [To Dorothy Brett, 7 August 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

6 August 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Dearest Bogey
   I have been on the point of writing this letter for days. My heart has been behaving in such a curious fashion that I cant imagine it means nothing. So, as I should hate to leave you unprepared, I'll just try & jot down what comes into my mind. All my manuscripts I leave entirely to you to do what you like with. Go through them one day, dear love, and destroy all you do not use. Please destroy all letters you do not wish to keep & all papers. You know my love of tidiness. Have a clean sweep, Bogey, and leave all fair - will you?
   Books are yours ofcourse, & so are my personal possessions. L.M. had better distribute my clothes. Give your Mother my fur coat, will you? Chaddie & Jeanne must choose what they want & I suppose Vera would like something. My small pearl ring - the ‘daisy' one I should like to wear. The other, give to Richard's love when you know her - if you approve ofthe idea.
   I seem, after all, to have nothing to leave and nobody to leave things to. Dela Mare I should like to remember and Richard. But you will give a book or some small thing to whoever wishes . . . Monies, of course, are all yours. In fact, my dearest dear, I leave everything to you - to the secret you whose lips I kissed this morning. In spite of everything - how happy we have been! I feel no other lovers have walked the earth together more joyfully - in spite of all.
   Farewell, my precious love.
   I am for ever and ever
                        Your
                         WIG. [To J. M. Murry, 7 August 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

5 August 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Later Edition. D.B. darling, I have just got your Lawrence review & note. You didn't send the Pope, love . . . But Ill get L.M. to ask for the two receipts and will print the address in a fair white linen hand. About your review - I think you are absolutely right in every word of it - every word. I think you occasionally use more words of praise than are necessary, it sounds too effusive & will raise suspicion. Shall I tone it down a bit on my typewriter or send as it is? I'll phone you & ask. Gerhardi comes off with a nice little pat. But can't be helped. Oh, I long for a paper this morning!! I have been "making up" a paper ever since I read your review. I shall start one, too, jolly soon. For three years only. But what years! Dont you think it might be a good idea if this week you came on Sunday instead of Saturday? Give us a longer week. That is if you are at all presséor inclined to the notion. (No! See below). Otherwise you wont mind will you dear, if I do a bit of work on Saturday while you are in the garden. H'm yes. After my spartan suggestion has been written I take it back. I say instead what I have said about working. . . & hope Ill be able to look out of [the] window & see your summer feltie below. Yes, indeed, come Saturday unless you don't want to, or think that the female will is determined to drag you here. Its not, my dear darling. [To J. M. Murry, early August 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

4 August 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Early Edition.
D.B.
   I think Amos Barton is awful & there is nothing to say for it. In the first place poor George Eliot's Hymn to the Cream Jug makes me feel quite quesy (no wonder she harps on biliousness & begins her description of a feast ‘should one not be bilious there is no pleasanter sight' etc.). In the second place the idea of lovely, gentle, fastidious, Madonna-like Mrs Barton having 8 children in 9 years by that pockmarked poor ‘mongrel' (her own words) with the blackened stumps for teeth is simply disgusting! If I thought the poor little pamphlet was designed to put in a word in favour of Birth Control I could bear it. But far from it. Each chubby chubby with a red little fist & TEN BLACK NAILS (how is that for charm?) rouses a kind of female cannibalism in G.E. She gloats over the fat of babies.
   I have always heard Amos Barton was one of her best stories. You know its very very bad that we haven't sincerer critics. Having spread my peacock tail to that extent I had better depart. Not before saying what a truly frightful need England hath of thee.
                 Yours ever & ever
                    Wig. [To J. M. Murry, early August 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

3 August 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Dear Elizabeth
   Many many thanks once more.
   I am so sorry to hear of your misfortunes .... My story isn't a bit wonderful; I wish to God it were. But I'm panting for new scenes, new blood - everything brand new! In fact, you've lent that £100 to a fearfully desperate character.
   Ever, dear Elizabeth,
                    Yours lovingly,
                     Katherine.
[To Elizabeth, Countess Russell, 3 August 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

2 August 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

Perhaps you will be seeing Brett in a few days? She goes back to England tomorrow. I feel awfully inclined to Campbell about her for a little. But it would take a whole book to say all that one feels. She is a terrible proof of the influence ones childhood has upon one. And there has been nothing stronger in her life to counteract that influence. I do not think she will ever be an adult being. She is weak; she is a vine; she longs to cling. She cannot nourish herself from the earth; she must feed on the sap of another. How can these natures ever be happy? By happy I mean at peace with themselves? She is seeking someone who will make her forget that early neglect, that bullying and contempt. But the person who would satisfy her would have to dedicate himself to curing all the results of her unhappiness - her distrust, for instance, her suspicions, her fears. He would have to take every single picture and paint it with her, just as a singer, by singing with his pupil can make that weak voice strong & confident. . . But even then, she would not be cured.
   I believe one can cure nobody, one can change nobody fundamentally. The born slave cannot become a free man. He can only become free-er. I have refused to believe that for years, and yet I am certain it is true - it is even a law of life. But it is equally true that hidden in the slave there are the makings of the free man. And these makings are very nice in Brett, very sensitive and generous. I love her for them. They make me want to help her as much as I can.  [To S.S. Koteliansky, 2 August 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

1 August 1922

Hotel Chateau Belle Vue, Sierre, Switzerland

My dear Koteliansky,
   I hope you are better. If you need a doctor Sorapure is a good man - intelligent and quiet. He does not discuss Lloyd George with one, either. This is a great relief. All the other English doctors that I know have just finished reading The Daily Mail by the time they reach me. It is a pity that Lawrence is driven so far. I am sure Western Australia will not help. The desire to travel is a great, real temptation. But does it do any good? It seems to me to correspond to the feelings of a sick man who thinks always ‘if only I can get away from here I shall be better.' However - there is nothing to be done. One must go through with it. No one can stop that sick man, either, from moving on and on. His craving is stronger than he. But Lawrence, I am sure, will get well. [To S.S. Koteliansky, 2 August 1922.]

Comments: 0 | Read and Post Comments

1 2