The Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Katherine Mansfield: Volume 3: The Poetry and Critical Writings of Katherine Mansfield, edited by Gerri Kimber and Angela Smith (Edinburgh University Press, 2014), 754 pp., £175; Volume 4, The Diaries of Katherine Mansfield: Including miscellaneous works, edited by Gerri Kimber and Claire Davison (Edinburgh University Press, 2016), 500 pp., £175
These two handsome volumes are successors to the collected fiction, volumes 1 and 2 of the Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Katherine Mansfield, co-edited by Gerri Kimber and Vincent O’Sullivan, who, in making available all Mansfield’s creative work, aimed at a remapping that would show her ‘rare originality’. The variety of short stories, sketches, vignettes and dialogues displayed in the collected fiction is amply complemented by the range of nonfiction presented in these volumes: Mansfield’s poetry and critical writings in volume 3, and her diaries and miscellaneous works in volume 4. Most of Mansfield’s non-fictional writings have been published in various editions since her death, many poorly edited by John Middleton Murry. The new volumes feature much newly discovered work presented with up-to-date scholarship and ample textual annotation. Volume 4 publishes Mansfield’s diaries in a chronological order, by contrast to Margaret Scott’s 1997 The Katherine Mansfield Notebooks. By bringing together the non-fiction as a greatly expanded corpus, the editors display as never before Mansfield’s multiple talents as diarist and journal writer, translator, poet, reviewer and essayist, and producer of parodies, pastiches and aphorisms.
The gargantuan, 750-page volume 3 consists of almost all the nonfiction that Mansfield ever wrote (apart from her personal writing), and opens with 179 poems, almost double the number collected in Vincent O’Sullivan’s 1988 edition. Many new poems are recent discoveries made by Kimber in the Alexander Turnbull Library, including 19 poems in a notebook titled ‘Little Fronds’, written when Mansfield was at Queen’s College, London, dedicated to ‘Ake, Ake Aroha’ and signed ‘Kathleen M. Beauchamp’. Volume 4 contains Kimber’s most recent discovery, made in the Newberry Library – too late to be included in volume 3 – of the treasure trove of poems entitled ‘The Earth Child’ (1910), a cycle of 35 poems that Mansfield hoped would be published in 1910, which shows her, the editors claim, ‘at the height of her poetic powers’. Only nine of the poems have been previously published, and the entire sequence is reproduced in the section ‘Miscellany’. Despite the slightness and unevenness of this apprentice work, mostly written before Mansfield left for London in 1908, it offers glimpses of what was to come. [Read more…]