Essay Prize

The Katherine Mansfield Society's annual essay prize competition for 2017, open to all, was on the subject of:




The international Katherine Mansfield Society is pleased to announce that this year's £200 prize for a scholarly essay on the theme of ‘Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf,’ has been awarded to Karina Jakubowicz of University College London for her essay ‘A Conversation Set to Flowers: Beyond the Origins of Virginia Woolf’s Kew Gardens.’ The judges for this year’s Katherine Mansfield Essay Prize were Stuart N. Clarke (Chief Editor, Virginia Woolf Bulletin, Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, and co-editor of Virginia Woolf’s Essays), Christine Reynier (Université Paul Valéry – Montpellier, France), Kathryn Simpson (Cardiff Metropolitan University), and  Christine Froula (Northwestern University, Chair of the Judging Panel). 

Putting in question the widely accepted proposition by eminent Mansfield biographer Antony Alpers that a lost letter from Mansfield to Woolf inspired Woolf’s famous short story, Karina Jakubowicz examines an array of documents by Mansfield, Woolf, and Ottoline Morrell, whose spectacular Italianate and wild gardens at Garsington Manor drew many artists and thinkers loosely associated with Bloomsbury, to demonstrate the lively interest in gardens as a literary theme shared by several of these writers. Such documents include Morrell’s unpublished manuscript, ‘Garsington.’ Jakubowicz characterises Morrell’s, Mansfield’s and Woolf’s distinct approaches to writing about gardens even as each seeks to capture in words the vibrancy, movement, colour, and experimentation of garden spaces. In the judges’ view, this outstanding essay offers a detailed, original and astute reconsideration of the origins of Kew Gardens within these writers’ shared interest in the social and psychological possibilities of garden spaces for literary representation. It brings archival materials to light and examines in detail the interconnections, experiences and correspondences of Morrell, Mansfield, and Woolf to show why each was attracted to traditional gardens as spaces to set in play ‘bold, even radical ideas.’

Karina Jakubowicz is a doctoral candidate at University College London writing a thesis on gardens in the work of Virginia Woolf. She now teaches at University College London and The Foundation for International Education. She recently published Garsington Manor and the Bloomsbury Group with Cecil Woolf Publishers. Her current scholarly work widens the scope of her dissertation to the study of gardens in the work of early-twentieth-century writers. ‘A Conversation Set to Flowers: Beyond the Origins of Virginia Woolf’s Kew Gardens’ will appear in Katherine Mansfield Studies, volume 10, on the topic of Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf, to be published in October 2018 by Edinburgh University Press. All members of the Katherine Mansfield Society will receive a copy on publication.