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The Life of Katherine Mansfield



The novel, Juliet , which Kathleen Beauchamp began on May 18th, 1907, her last term at Queen's, shows this influence. She absorbed so completely what she was reading at the time; it became such a part of her, that it was inevitable she should reflect something of it, just as she reflected in all of her writing her state, her immediate attitude to life, as well as her mood of the moment.

What she was writing for herself, then, was vastly different from the sketches she wrote for publication in the College Magazine. Those, with one exception, had been stories of her New Zealand childhood. page 216 That exception was the second to be published (March, 1904), Die Einsame, unlike the others in style, with something of herself in its conception of the solitary life of the spirit, but in its form obviously influenced by her reading. Ida Baker, at the same time, had written a story “practically the same thing, but, of course, without the literary mark,” as she explained :“it was because we were so much in harmony.”

Kathleen's story was highly spoken of by Miss Bedford, the drawing instructor. In her next three, nevertheless, she returned to her childhood theme, in great contrast to the contributions which made up the rest of the magazine : what The Candid Critic, a caustic scarlet-covered junior pamphlet appearing in June, 1905, called “Odes to Spring and Fairy Tales by College Hans Andersens.” Her next published sketch (December, 1904) was Your Birthday, a sprightly but very tender study of a child. For the following half-yearly issue (July, 1905) the twenty-second year of the magazine, Kathleen Beauchamp was sub-Editor and Ida Baker, Treasurer. Kathleen's story was One Day, a day in the life of the children of her family; and, her sister says, a true picture. She had not yet mastered her material, however, and the style was artificial, though there were some amusing and several charming touches and consistent character drawing of the four children. For the next issue (December, 1905) she was Head Editor, with Francis Maurice sub-Editor. In that number, her sketch, About Pat, showed something of the perception that triumphed in her later work.

page 217

She evidently had no connection with the issue of her final term (July, 1906). By that time she was writing for herself alone. She was beginning to live vividly and with new awareness, and she was putting so much of it into Juliet that the “novel” was too “advanced” to be offered to a college audience.