Literature by Jeffery Meyers
The British writer Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) is best known for the penetrating irony of her frequently anthologized short stories. In this major reinterpretation of her life and work, first published in 1980 and now being made available in paperbound format, Jeffrey Meyers sees Katherine Mansfield as a passionate and tragic heroine who could control her art but not her life. Basing his assessment on a wide range of interviews and extensive research of published and unpublished sources in New Zealand, England, and America, Meyers reveals a less idealized but more readily understandable Mansfield. He examines in some detail her rebellious reaction to her colonial background, her self-destructive revolt against respectability, and her stormy emotional life: her lesbian friendships, her early love affairs, miscarriage, and abortion; her one-day marriage; and her extraordinary relationship with John Middleton Murry. The quest for health and a cure from rapidly advancing tuberculosis dominated her last years. Giving up on orthodox medicine, she resorted to the mysticism of Gurdjieff, at whose Institute in France she died at the age of thirty-four. This biography links the tempestuous events of her short life with her development as a writer and also explores the influence of her friendships with many of her contemporaries, from D. H. Lawrence to Virginia Woolf.