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Katherine Mansfield

KatherineMansfieldYou may notice that today’s Google Doodle celebrates the birthday of Katherine Mansfield. Who? Well that’s what I asked myself, so I did a bit of digging…

Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp Murry (14 Oct 1888 – 9 Jan 1923) was a writer of short fiction who was born in Wellington, New Zealand, and wrote under the pen name Katherine Mansfield.

Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp was born into a socially prominent family, the middle of 5 children. Her first published stories appeared in the High School Reporter and the Wellington Girls’ High School magazine. She also kept a journal where she wrote about feeling alienated in New Zealand and the repression of Maori people, their characters portrayed in a sympathetic light in her later stories. Also featured in her journal were her relationships; notably prominent were several lesbian relationships. Looking at her chart below, while she may have felt kindly towards her siblings she also felt somewhat of an outsider, separate and unique from her environment, and perhaps misunderstood (3rd house Moon In Aquarius square Venus). This is further supported by the Sun (self-expression) conjunct freedom-loving Uranus, and independent Mars in the 1st house.

Katherine Mansfield's chartMansfield first moved to London in 1903 when she attended college along with her sisters. Between 1903 and 1906 she travelled in Europe staying mainly in Belgium and Germany. After finishing her schooling in England, she returned to New Zealand in 1906, and only then began to write short stories. She had several works published, her first paid writing work, which spurred her towards becoming a professional writer. This was the first occasion on which she used the pseudonym “K. Mansfield”. The ruler of the Ascendant in the 12th attests to a desire for some level of anonymity (see chart).

She grew weary of the provincial New Zealand lifestyle and of her family, and two years later headed back to London, never to return again. Note that Aquarius is on the 4th house cusp – separation from home/family is a common theme here. Plus with Mars in fun-loving Sagittarius in the 1st house she needed to sow some wild oats.

Mansfield adopted a bohemian lifestyle and became involved in several complicated relationships. She had a passionate affair, became pregnant, was rejected by his family, married another man but it was never consummated, reunited with the first lover, but was then ‘rescued’ by her mother and shipped off to Bavaria, where Mansfield miscarried. To top it all off, Mansfield’s mother cut her out of her Will! These themes are illustrated by the Moon (mother/child) in Aquarius (eccentricity/disconnection) square (challenging) Venus (relationships) in complicated Scorpio.

TheNewAgeWhilst in Bavaria Mansfield was introduced to the works of Anton Chekhov, which had a significant influence on her literary outlook. After she returned to London in January 1910, she then published more than a dozen articles in A.R. Orage’s socialist magazine The New Age, and became a friend and lover of Beatrice Hastings, who lived with Orage. Her experiences of Germany formed the foundation of her first published collection, In a German Pension. Soon afterwards, Mansfield submitted a story to a new avant-garde magazine called Rhythm. The piece was rejected by the magazine’s editor, John Middleton Murry, who requested something darker. Mansfield responded with “The Woman at the Store”, a tale of murder and mental illness (12th house Scorpio).

Mansfield and Murry began a relationship in 1911 and were married in 1918, although she left him twice, in 1911 and 1913. In January 1914 the couple moved to Paris, in the hope that a change of setting would make writing easier for both of them. However, Mansfield wrote only one story during her time there. She did however have a brief affair with the French writer Francis Carco. Her visit to him in Paris in February 1915 is retold in one of her short stories, “An Indiscreet Journey”. Her various “indiscretions” can be attributed to Venus in the 12th House.

Katherine_Mansfield_1918At the beginning of 1917 Mansfield and Murry separated, although he continued to visit her at her new apartment where she lived with fellow writer Ida Baker. Mansfield entered into her most prolific period of writing after 1916, which began with several stories being published in The New Age. Virginia Woolf and her husband, Leonard, who had recently set up Hogarth Press, approached her for a story, and Mansfield presented “Prelude”, about a family of New Zealanders moving house.

Mansfield was diagnosed with tuberculosis. This is illustrated by Gemini (lungs) in 6th house (health). In December 1917 she moved to Bandol, France, to avoid the English winter. She stayed at a cold and depressing hotel but continued to produce stories, including “Je ne parle pas français”.

By April 1918 Mansfield’s divorce from Bowden had been finalized, and she and Murry married. Jupiter rules the 5th house of lovers and is hidden in the 12th house of self-undoing, and Mercury rules marriage, also hidden in the 12th. Love and marriage was elusive to Mansfield, but as a Libran it was also a life-long pursuit. With the Sun in Libra conjunct freedom-loving Uranus she was really in pursuit of expressing her individuality.

In 1919 Murry became editor of Athenaeum, for which Mansfield wrote more than 100 book reviews, collected posthumously as Novels and Novelists. During the winter of 1918–19 she and Ida Baker stayed in a villa in San Remo, Italy. Their relationship came under strain during this period, and although her relationship with Murry became increasingly distant she wrote “The Man Without a Temperament”, the story of an ill wife and her long-suffering husband. Mansfield followed her first collection of short stories, Bliss (1920), with another collection The Garden Party, published in 1922.

Mansfield suffered a fatal pulmonary haemorrhage in January 1923, after running up a flight of stairs. She died on 9 January and was buried in a cemetery in Avon. Mansfield was only 34.

Much of her work remained unpublished at her death, so Murry took on the task of editing and publishing it in two additional volumes of short stories. Now, there are several high schools in New Zealand that have a house named after her and one has a stone monument dedicated to her. A street in Menton, France, where she lived and wrote, is named after her and a Fellowship is offered annually to enable a New Zealand writer to work at her former home, the Villa Isola Bella. New Zealand’s preeminent short story competition is also named in her honour. Mansfield was also the subject of the 1973 BBC miniseries A Picture of Katherine Mansfield starring Vanessa Redgrave (Sun in Aquarius conjunct Mansfield’s Moon), and in 2011, a biopic film titled “Bliss” was made of her early beginnings as a writer in New Zealand. Kate Elliott, who played Mansfield, also has the Moon in Aquarius.

Do you have any experiences of relationship complications you’d like to share?… Post a comment below

biography and images courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine_Mansfield

About the Author:

Hi. My name is Nikki and I am an astrologer currently working in Melbourne, Australia. On my astrology blog I share what I know to bring you closer to understanding how astrology can be of help to you.

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