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Kathleen in the neighbourhood



Last week I got a phone call from a woman who had read about my Katherine Mansfield project in the community newspaper. She wanted me to know that she grew up in Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon, very near to Katherine Mansfield’s family, the Beauchamps, and her father had been friends with Kathleen. Now the woman lived near me, and she had all of her father’s Mansfield treasures – clippings, books, biographies – as well as a few more personal things. Here’s Katherine’s name on his dance card – you can enlarge it by clicking on it – you can see that she danced with him three times, each time to the waltz. All the other ladies prefaced their names with ‘Miss’ – not Kathleen. There’s also a Miss Chaddie on the dance card – Katherine’s elder sister. And below Kathleen is Miss Perkins, which is funny, because Emily Perkins was touted as the next Katherine Mansfield when her book of stories, Not Her Real Name, first came out.

The woman also had her father’s autograph book and Katherine Mansfield had inscribed it with a few lines of music (anyone know what it is?) and a characteristic quote from Oscar Wilde. She was obsessed with Oscar Wilde in her teens.


It was lovely to talk to the woman – she was so interesting – and to think that there are still some quite direct connections to Mansfield still living. The woman remembered Mansfield’s sisters visiting her house, and she also remembered seeing Harold Beauchamp catching the tram near the Katherine Mansfield memorial, wearing a bowler hat and swinging his cane, frowning upon the school girls who were doing handstands on the grass.

Talking about the neighbourhood – I have my talk at the local Pt Chev library today! 2.30-3.30. I’d better go practice.




5 Comments leave one →
  1. 28/09/2013 9:49 am

    What treasures you have found!

  2. 28/09/2013 11:12 am

    Hi Sarah

    Wow! This is amazing!

    Please could you pass on my details to this lady – I’m writing a new book on KM and would love to get in touch with her!


  3. 05/10/2013 4:13 pm

    Mr 6′s cello teacher has reported back and says: “It is Haydn Concerto D Major, 2nd movement. I’m at the teachers’ conference so we all saw it and tried it!”

  4. 08/10/2013 2:41 pm

    That is fantastic. I am doing a concert of the pieces that KM played on the cello on Friday at Saint John’s in the city (6pm) and had I known about this I would have included the music in the concert.

    • Sarah Laing permalink
      11/10/2013 7:21 pm

      I hope it went well – you can play this next KM concert!

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