Kathleen Jones

14 April 2009

Penguin New Zealand

Media statement

The first definitive biography of the writer Katherine Mansfield for two decades is to be published by Penguin New Zealand.

Written by English biographer Kathleen Jones, Katherine Mansfield: The Story-teller will be published by Penguin in mid-2010. 

Kathleen Jones' agent Isobel Dixon of Blake Friedmann Literary Agency says: 'We felt it was vital to have a good New Zealand publisher on board for this important new biography first.' Dixon is now offering the book in other countries.

Mansfield is widely recognised as New Zealand's greatest-ever writer. Writing in Britain and Europe in the early twentieth century, Mansfield had a major influence on the evolution of the modern short story form.

Her new biographer, Kathleen Jones, is a highly respected English writer whose books include biographies of Margaret Forster, Catherine Cookson and Christina Rossetti. She is also a published poet, journalist and fiction writer.

Jones spent considerable time over many years in New Zealand researching the biography, particularly at the National Library in Wellington, Mansfield's birth place.

Penguin New Zealand predicts that publication of the new biography will be a major literary event. Says publishing director Geoff Walker: ‘There hasn't been a big new definitive Mansfield biography for several decades. That in itself is reason enough to publish a new book about her life and work.

‘But in those two decades there has been also extensive new research into her notebooks and letters which has revealed much new material, particularly about her relationship with John Middleton Murry.

‘Kathleen's research into Mansfield's medical condition in the latter years of her life has also produced some fascinating conclusions.'

‘Penguin is delighted and thrilled to be publishing this exciting new biography in New Zealand.'

The newly-formed Katherine Mansfield Society has welcomed publication of the new biography. Says Chair and Mansfield scholar Sarah Sandley:

‘In the past two decades all Mansfield's notebooks and letters have been transcribed and published, and other embargoed material has become available. We therefore know a lot more about this important writer. Kathleen's new book will build on this and will make a major contribution to Mansfield scholarship.'