'MANSFIELD, Katherine' [i.e. Kathleen Mansfield BEAUCHAMP] (1888-1923). Autograph drafts of poems, and notes, n.p. [London], n.d. [1917-1919], approximately 12½ pages, small 8°. [With:]
John Middleton MURRY (1889-1957, from 1918 Mansfield's husband). Autograph draft verses and notes, n.p., 18-20 December 1917-7 December 1923 (most n.d.), approximately 21½ pages, small 8°, the verses and notes of both writers on the leaves of a notebook, red straight-grained morocco, 165 x 108mm, brass clasp (blank leaves, front endpaper removed, extremities slightly scuffed). [And (loosely inserted):]
An autograph poem by John Middleton Murry entitled 'To Jules Laforgue', October 1915, one page, 4°; a typed poem with minor autograph corrections; and four autograph letters signed ('Middleton' and, with initials, 'JMM'), to Millar Dunning and his wife ('Bill'), Yately, Langham (2) and 10 Adelphi Terrace, 24 April -2 May 1936 and n.d., 3 pages, 4° and one page, 8°.
Provenance: John Middleton Murry to Millar and Jessie ['Billo'] Dunning, and by descent to the present owner.
The untitled poems in Katherine Mansfield's hand include:
'Countess Jutta rowed over the Rhine', ['A version from Heine, 1918', a 21 line translation of Heine's poem 'Pfalzgräfin Jutta fuhr über den Rhein' (1846) with a theme of drowned wooers and corpses swimming after a murderer in the Rhine, published in The Journal, 2nd edition, 1954]; two drafts of 'Friendship' [the second, opening 'When we were charming backfisch' published in The Scrapbooks and dated by Murry 1919]; 'Love, love, your tenderness' [published as 'Covering Wings']; 'Said the snail' ['Caution']; 'Now folds the Tree of Day its perfect flowers' ['Fairy Tale']; 'Darling Heart if you would make me' ['He wrote']; all published by Middleton Murry in The Athenaeum (1919), or in his various collections of Katherine Mansfield's works published after her death. Other scribbled or barely legible lines or verses appear to relate to plans for writing.
A crisp but poignant comment by Mansfield, on a poem by Murry dated 22 December 1917, is a reminder of her own fragility--she had just been told that that she had tuberculosis: 'The final page has lovely things in it but Sir why waste sich flowers on funerals? Oh, I do think it is so wrong. Please don't lay me out. How can you'.
The verses by Middleton Murry, some dwelling considerably on death, were probably prepared for his Poems 1918 - 1919 (published 1920). Mansfield's published letters show that he asked her opinion of them.
Murry's letters refer to his having 'plunged into writing a great book' to drown his sorrows (on the death of his second wife, Violet le Maistre), to his unhappy third marriage (to Betty Cockbayne), 'I've had 5 years experience of Woman: and I confess myself beaten', and to his growing interest in mysticism. The Dunnings, his neighbours at Ditchling in 1920, became close friends and encouraged him to share their own interest in Eastern religion and meditation.