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Katherine Mansfield

(14 October 1888 – 9 January 1923 / Wellington)

Quotations

  • ''Were we positive, eager, real—alive? No, we were not. We were a nothingness shot with gleams of what might be.''
    Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), New Zealand-born British author. Letter, October 11, 1922, to her husband, John Middleton Murry.
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  • ''I'm a writer first and a woman after.''
    Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), New Zealand-born British author. letter, Dec. 3, 1920, to her husband John Middleton Murry.
  • ''Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.''
    Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), New Zealand-born British author. journal entry, Oct. 14, 1922.
  • ''Would you not like to try all sorts of lives—one is so very small—but that is the satisfaction of writing—one can impersonate so many people.''
    Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), New Zealand-born-British author. Letter, April 24, 1907. Collected Letters, vol. 1, eds. Vincent O'Sullivan and Margaret Scott (1984).
  • ''It's a terrible thing to be alone—yes it is—it is—but don't lower your mask until you have another mask prepared beneath—as terrible as you like—but a mask.''
    Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), New Zealand-born British author. Letter, July 1917, to her future husband, John Middleton Murry. Collected Letters, vol. 1, eds. Vincent O'Sullivan and Margaret Scott (1984). Mansfield found Murry's style of writing in which he seemed to "abase" himself—at a time when he was most influenced by the style of D.H. Lawrence—"indecent."
  • ''To work—to work! It is such infinite delight to know that we still have the best things to do.''
    Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), New Zealand-born British author. letter, Dec. 7, 1916, to Bertrand Russell. Collected Letters, vol. 1, eds. Vincent O'Sullivan and Margaret Scott (1984).
  • ''Everything in life that we really accept undergoes a change. So suffering must become Love. That is the mystery.''
    Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), New Zealand-born British author. The Journal of Katherine Mansfield, entry for Dec. 19, 1920 (1927).
  • ''When we can begin to take our failures nonseriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves.''
    Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), New Zealand-born-British author. The Journal of Katherine Mansfield, Oct. 1922 entry (1927).

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Jangling Memory

Heavens above! here's an old tie of your--
Sea-green dragons stamped on a golden ground.
Ha! Ha! Ha! What children we were in those days.

Do you love me enough to wear it now?
Have you the courage of your pristine glories?
Ha! Ha! Ha! You laugh and shrug your shoulders.

Those were the days when a new tie spelt a fortune:

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