Saturday, January 9, 2010

Anniversary of Katherine Mansfield's Death

Katherine MansfieldKatherine Mansfield [1988-1923] died on this day 9 January 1923 at Fontainebleau, France. During the First World War she contracted tuberculosis which led to her early death at the age of 34.

Katherine Mansfield spent much of her last years seeking a cure for TB. She underwent many unorthodox treatments such as having her spleen bombarded with X-Rays by Russian physician Ivan Manoukhin. This led Katherine Mansfield to become more unwell and she suffered painful side effects including heat flashes and numbness in her legs.

Seeking spiritual enlightenment and relief from her suffering Katherine Mansfield became resident at Georges Gurdjieff's Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man in Fontainebleau, France in October 1922.

Grave of Katherine MansfieldExcited by John Middleton Murry's visit on 9 January 1923 and her increased feelings of well being Katherine Mansfield ran up a flight of stairs causing a fatal lung haemorrhage. She died in the arms of her doctor 30 minutes later.

Ida Baker, Katherine Mansfield's long time friend, who was working on a farm nearby took over the funeral arrangements from the stunned Murry. She tried to ensure that Katherine Mansfield's wishes were carried out and her belongings disposed of according to KM's instructions.

Katherine Mansfield was buried in a cemetery in the Fontainebleau District in the town of Avon. [Cimetière d'Avon, Seine et Marne, France]

Violet Le MaistreMurry and Ida Baker returned to England. Murry vowed that he ‘would not let her die’ even though he proceeded to have affairs with Katherine Mansfield's friends Dorothy Brett and Frieda Lawrence before becoming engaged to Violet le Maistre (a Katherine Mansfield look-alike) a few months after Katherine Mansfield's death.

Murry who often showed himself to be impractical forgot to pay for Katherine Mansfield’s funeral expenses resulting in her being moved into a pauper’s grave. It was left to Ida Baker to take care of the situation.

Katherine Mansfield's writing in the last few months of her life clearly shows that she found life in the community exhilarating. Read an interview with Orage published after in 1924 entitled Talks with Katherine Mansfield at Fontainebleau.

Related Articles
Katherine Mansfield Life - Brief Bio

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