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The Letters of Katherine Mansfield: Volume I

Introductory Note

page vii

Introductory Note

In arranging the letters of Katherine Mansfield for publication I have had two distinct aims in view: to present as fully as possible all those of her letters which seemed to me to possess an intrinsic interest, and secondly to retain such portions of other letters as would explain the various situations of her life. My hope is that, taken together with her Journal, the letters as now arranged will form an intimate and complete autobiography for the last ten years of her life.

It was our destiny that our life together should be broken by frequent and prolonged and most painful separations. During these times of separation she wrote to me every day, and these sequences of her letters have always seemed to me to convey her more truly as she was, with her alternations of joy and sorrow, than any of her writings save her finest stories. It is, naturally, impossible for me to have an unbiassed judgment upon this matter; and it is possible that these letters may not be so remarkable and so beautiful as I believe them to be. But I have read them many times, and always with the feeling that she lived again in them.

Her letters of certain periods, notably in the three weeks (March 22-April 11, 1918) during which she was detained, seriously ill, in Paris during the bombardment, and again while she was isolated in Ospedaletti in January 1920, are too painful for publication.

A certain amount of criticism was directed page break against the publication of her Journal on the ground that the revelations were too intimate; and no doubt the same criticism can be made with equal justice of these volumes. But Katherine Mansfield's one concern was to leave behind her some small legacy of truth, and because I believe that not a little of her ‘truth’ is contained in these letters, I have tried to make the record as complete as I could.