Birthday Lecture 2011

This year’s birthday lecture was an outstanding event. The speakers, Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Dame Margaret Drabble spoke eloquently about their individual passion for KM and their talks were brilliantly chaired by Professor Kirsty Gunn. The reading of KM’s story ‘Sun and Moon’ by the acclaimed actress Susannah Harker was a spellbinding moment, and those of us who were there will never forget it! A truly memorable afternoon! Grateful thanks to Sue Reid and her team for organising such a remarkable event: Alice Kelly, Janet Wilson, Delia da Sousa Correa and Gerri Kimber, and to Delia again for hosting and funding the event at the marvellous venue of the Open University in London.

Salley Vickers unfortunately had to withdraw from the event,  but sent us this message:

“Although I think ‘Bliss’ is my favourite Katherine Mansfield story it was not the first that I read.  I was eleven when I first encountered her, in an anthology of short stories for what is nowadays called ‘young adults’ but back then we called ‘teenagers’. The story was ‘Her First Ball’ and that was also the title of the collection. I remember nothing about the other stories but still I remember the enchantment with which I read of the young heroine’s fluctuating feelings – of excitement, joy, disillusion and discovery and rediscovery. The enchantment has never left me. Her so-called journals, too, are a wealth of treasures frequently moving but also frequently very funny. Unlike her more famous contemporary, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield has never dated. Her stories, often seemingly so ephemeral, rise above the situations they describe and make an indelible mark with their steelily precise observations about the contrariness of human nature and our essential unknowability, not least to ourselves. There is an uncluttered quality in her writing which conveys life’s inscrutability far more successfully than any fancy prose. Quite simply I love her work and I love her sensibility. She is one of my touchstones – something every writer needs.”

The event booklet is available for purchase from the KMS Shop.

The 2011 Birthday Lecture is generously sponsored by the Open University, to whom the Katherine Mansfield Society extends its grateful thanks.

Images from the event follow: