cover image Katherine Manssfield

Katherine Manssfield

Claire Tomalin. Alfred A. Knopf, $22.95 (292pp) ISBN 978-0-394-56847-8

British biographer Tomalin (Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft) here reinterprets the life and career of the great New Zealand-born short story writer and her relationships with family and friends. Writing from a perspective different from that of previous biographers Antony Alpers and Jeffrey Meyers, and allowed to examine letters not available to them, she is less sympathetic than they to John Middleton Murry and more appreciative of D. H. Lawrence's importance to Mansfield. She adds new dimensions to the pictures of Mansfield's connections with her friend Edith Bendall, her ""faithful wife'' Ida Constance Baker and Virginia Woolf. ``None of her sexual relations with men appears to have given her happiness or even satisfaction,'' and, in her affairs with women, she did ``the courting, the letter-writing and the jilting.'' Tomalin also suggests that Mansfield's many illnesses and perhaps her death, in 1923 at age 34, from TB, were attributable to the gonorrhea she contracted from Floryan Sobieniowski in 1909. Photos. (March)