Katherine Mansfield’s art of commemoration: Leslie Beauchamp and World War I

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsSymposiumResearch


For Katherine Mansfield, World War One was experienced as apocalyptic, life defining: the sudden death of her beloved brother Leslie Beauchamp, in a hand-grenade accident in Belgium in 1915 made her profoundly aware of ‘tragic knowledge’, the destruction of a generation. Her devastation at Leslies’ death led her to vow to ‘find new expressions, new moulds for our thoughts and feelings’. In her elegiac celebration of her brother’s life in stories that returned to their childhood in New Zealand, written in the few years that were left to her, Mansfield developed her modernist technique into an art of commemoration. This paper addresses Mansfield’s process of mourning and her struggle to compensate for a personal tragedy by turning to memory, spirituality and psychic powers. Making reference to Mansfield’s letters and notebooks, I will ask what part religion and faith, transcendence and immortality play in the perceptions and apprehensions of death that pervade ‘commemorative’ last stories like ‘The Fly’ and ‘Six Years After’.
Period27 Sep 2015
Event titleKatherine Mansfield, Leslie Beauchamp and World War One
Event typeConference
LocationMesen/Messines, BelgiumShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Katherine Mansfield
  • Leslie Beauchamp
  • World War One
  • Ploegsteert Wood
  • 'The Fly'
  • 'Six Years After'