13 Feb 2013

New Mansfield works discovered

9:00 pm on 13 February 2013

Previously unknown works by Katherine Mansfield have been uncovered in papers recently acquired by the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Leading Mansfield scholar Gerri Kimber discovered a short story, poems and other fragments of work by the New Zealand-born author in papers sold to the library by the estate of Mansfield's husband John Middleton Murry.

Dr Kimber, senior lecturer at the University of Northampton in Britain, says the works will offer new opportunities to reassess Mansfield's life and writing and to look again at her as a poet.

She said almost nothing was known of Mansfield's life at the time she wrote one of the pieces, Sumurun: An Impression of Leopoldine Konstantin, in 1910 or early 1911.

"These are KM's hashish smoking, bi-sexual, drug-taking dark days, nearly all signs of which she obliterated.

"There are dark images and even darker themes in the piece itself, which is probably why Murry never published it in any of his posthumous publications of Mansfield's work."

Library curator David Colquhoun said the acquisition was protracted because the family could not decide whether it wanted to sell the items and had high expectations for a sale price.

Mr Colquhoun said the $250,000 paid was money well spent.