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Katherine Mansfield treasure trove comes to the Turnbull

Media Release from the Alexander Turnbull Library 11 August 2012

Katherine Mansfield treasure trove comes to the Turnbull

The private life of Katherine Mansfield is revealed in a treasure trove of personal letters and photos newly acquired by the Alexander Turnbull Library.

The major collection of Mansfield papers and related material had been held by the family of Katherine Mansfield’s second husband, John Middleton Murry.

“Significantly, this acquisition is the last known collection of Mansfield material held in a private collection,” said Dr Fiona Oliver, the Turnbull’s Curator of New Zealand and Pacific Publications.

“The Library already contains the world’s leading collection of Katherine Mansfield papers, pictures, artefacts and publications but this latest acquisition offers very personal insights into Mansfield, John Middleton Murry, and their relationship.”

Highlights of the six carton-loads of material in the acquisition include:
• Mansfield’s passport, with a photo showing her with advanced tuberculosis and stamps of the places she visited in her highly itinerant life between 1919 and 1923. Poignantly, she died before the passport expired.

• Correspondence between Mansfield, Murry and a who’s-who of early 20th century literature, including D H Lawrence, E M Forster, T S Eliot and H G Wells

• A recipe, in Mansfield’s hand, for orange soufflé and cold-water scones

• Rare and unpublished photographs of Mansfield as a child and in later life

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• Two letters by Mansfield to Princess Elizabeth Bibesco (one sent, one unsent), warning her off an affair with Murry.

Items from the acquisition will be displayed in the Turnbull’s Reading Room in Wellington, ahead of the full collection being made available to researchers from late September.

The Alexander Turnbull Library, which is part of the National Library, is New Zealand’s pre-eminent research library. It collects, preserves and makes accessible words, pictures and sounds that tell us about the history and cultures of New Zealand and the Pacific.

© Scoop Media

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