Katherine Mansfield as traveller writer: space, identity, home

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaper


Mansfield’s travels in Europe after 1909, make her resemble the figure of the postcolonial woman writer who, in Elleke Boehmer’s terms, is ‘ more likely to be a cultural traveler, or an “extra-territorial” than a national. Ex colonial by birth […] cosmopolitan in almost every other way, [she] works within the Western metropolis, while at the same time retaining thematic and /or political connections with a national, ethnic or regional background’ (Colonial and Postcolonial Literature, OUP, 2005, p. 227) . This paper examines Mansfield as a post/colonial, mobile writer, who in travelling and writing, occupies different spaces which demand new points of identification and referencing, because they lie outside culturally coded norms. Referring to the types of journey she made I will identify her as both an obsessional and a melancholic traveller (with reference to Stephen M. Levin, The Contemporary Anglophone Travel Novel (Routledge 2008)), drawing a comparison between first person travel narratives set in Europe, and stories with female travellers as in ‘The Little Governess’, and the later New Zealand stories, like ‘Prelude’ and ‘The Garden Party’ where journeys are represented in symbolic and mythological terms. The paper will suggest that journeys and travel are potent metaphors by which to read Mansfield’s work, because they offer ways of articulating the self, and show how restlessness and movement enabled her to adopt many guises, yet also to shape her search for and eventual articulation of ‘home’
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2011
EventShaping Modernism: Katherine Mansfield and her Contemporaries - University of Cambridge
Duration: 1 Mar 2011 → …


ConferenceShaping Modernism: Katherine Mansfield and her Contemporaries
Period1/03/11 → …


  • Katherine Mansfield
  • travel
  • home
  • identity
  • melancholic
  • obsessional


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