Mansfield, Katherine

Mansfield, Katherine

Mansfield, Katherine, 1888-1923, British author, b. New Zealand, regarded as one of the masters of the short story. Her original name was Kathleen Beauchamp. A talented cellist, she did not turn to literature until 1908. Her first volume of short stories, In a German Pension (1911), was not remarkable and achieved little notice, but the stories in Bliss (1920) and The Garden Party (1922) established her as a major writer. Later volumes of stories include The Dove's Nest (1923) and Something Childish (1924; U.S. ed. The Little Girl, 1924). Her collected stories appeared in 1937. Novels and Novelists (1930) is a compilation of critical essays. After an unhappy first marriage, she married John Middleton Murry, an editor and critic, in 1918. During the last five years of her life she suffered from tuberculosis and succumbed to the disease at the age of 35. Mansfield's stories, which reveal the influence of Chekhov, are simple in form, luminous and evocative in substance. With delicate plainness they present elusive moments of decision, defeat, and small triumph. After her death Murry culled a number of books from her notebooks, editing her poems (1923, new ed. 1930), her journals (1927), her letters (1928), and a collection of unfinished pieces from her notebooks (1939).

See her letters ed. by V. O'Sullivan and M. Scott (2 vol., 1984-87) and her notebooks ed. by M. Scott (2003); biographies by J. Meyers (1980), N. Crone (1986), and C. Tomalin (1988); studies by C. Hanson, ed. (1987), G. Boddy (1988), and J. Meyers (2002).

The Stranger is a 1921 short story by Katherine Mansfield. It was first published in the London Mercury in January 1921, and later reprinted in The Garden Party and Other Stories.

Plot summary

In Auckland, Mr Hammond is waiting for his wife, back from Europe. After talking to some other people waiting at the harbour, she lands in but takes her time, leading him to wonder if she was sick during the voyage - she was not.

In the hotel, Hammond says they will spend the next day sightseeing in Auckland, before going back to Napier, where they live. She then appears distant, and eventually reveals that she took a while to leave the ship because a man had died onboard, and she was alone with him when that happened. The husband is put off.


  • Mr Scott
  • Mrs Scott
  • Jean Scott, their daughter.
  • Mr John Hammond
  • Mrs Janey Hammond, back from Europe.
  • Mr Gaven
  • Captain Johnson, the harbour master.

Major themes

  • love
  • death

Literary significance

The text is written in the modernist mode, without a set structure, and with many shifts in the narrative.


External links

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