On January 1, 1908, the year in which she would turn 20, Katherine Mansfield wrote in her diary: "The New Year has come - MY YEAR!" Full of confidence, she defied her father, a wealthy banker in Wellington, New Zealand Returns to London where she studied at Queen's College. The father provides minimal support, but she, Katherine, will write and sell short stories, so be self-employed and share the exciting life of London bohemian life.
Even as a schoolgirl, she documented her life in diaries and will continue to do so. When she dies at the age of 34, she leaves behind 85 thick notebooks, but not a word about the period from May 1909 to January 1910. How so?
She spends these months in Wörishofen, which was not yet a "swimming pool" at that time. It is said that her strict mother forced her to stay in the Bavarian provinces. Alarmed by rumors of a lesbian relationship between her daughter and a woman named Ida Baker, she has traveled 40 days by sea to London, taking Katherine to Wörishofen and leaving her there alone. What does she expect from this massive action? Does she even know what depresses her daughter, but also makes her happy?
Catherine is pregnant. Not from Mr. Bowden, a singing teacher ten years her senior, whom she hastily married in March and left on their wedding night, but from a young violinist. Does she want to carry her child in Wörishofen to raise it alone in London? Or should she put it up for adoption? There is no receipt, no letter that reveals their intentions. At that time, Wörishofen was still almost a village, to which, however, followers of the Kneipp teachings flocked in their thousands. Should a water cure also have an effect on Katherine, and if so, what?
With the 40 New Zealand shillings that her parents gave her a month, she can only pay for modest accommodation. Luckily, she learned German at school, and communication with guests and locals works well. More importantly, she has the time and leisure to write. When she returned to London in early 1910, she brought with her the manuscript of her first book, a collection of short stories entitled In Eine deutsche Pension, which made her famous.
And the child? She miscarried in June 1909 because she lifted a heavy suitcase onto the closet. This is the official version, which quietly raises doubts. But do we have a right to know "everything" about it? She says nowhere about what happened that summer. In the twelve years that remain to her, she enters into many relationships and a marriage, lives in England and France without finding peace. Bad Wörishofen later honored her with a statue in the Kurpark and named a square after her. In your mind's eye you see her in a small Bavarian boarding house (feather beds, wooden floorboards, geraniums) with a large suitcase that the porter has dragged up the stairs. She unpacks her things, the suitcase is empty and almost flies onto the closet by itself.
A dozen years later, weakened by tuberculosis, which she is trying to cure in a dubious healer's sanatorium, she wants to prove to her husband that she still has strength and runs up a flight of stairs. The result is a hemorrhage, and she dies on January 9, 1923. Her clever stories are still buzzing around the world today, and they have just been retranslated into German.
It is said that all writer's life is paper. In this series, we present evidence to the contrary.