‘Katherine Mansfield on the French Riviera’ Symposium CFP

An international symposium organised by the Katherine Mansfield Society, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship. Hosted by the Town Hall of Menton, and supported by the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship.

24-25 September 2020 | Menton, France

The New Zealand short story writer Katherine Mansfield (1888–1923) spent all her adult life in Europe, of which approximately three years in total were spent in France, where she later died. For much of this time she was on the French Riviera, firstly in Bandol and subsequently in Menton during the spring of 1920, and then staying at the Villa Isola Bella from September 1920 to May 1921.

Both Bandol and Menton proved fertile ground for Mansfield’s creativity. During two sojourns in Bandol (1916 and 1918), she completed ‘The Aloe’ and wrote ‘Je ne parle pas français’, ‘Sun and Moon’, and ‘Bliss’. The time she spent at the Villa Isola Bella in Menton resulted in ‘The Singing Lesson’, ‘The Young Girl’, ‘The Stranger’, ‘Miss Brill’, ‘Poison’, ‘The Lady’s Maid’, ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’, and ‘Life of Ma Parker’.

Mansfield’s life in the south of France also engendered comments in her notebooks and diaries, as well as in her letters. For example, near the end of a letter to her husband, John Middleton Murry, written from Menton, she wrote, ‘You will find ISOLA BELLA in poker work on my heart’. Domestic issues, friendships, visitors from England, descriptions of the Mediterranean, all feature in her personal writing. On her first visit to Menton, staying with her cousin Connie Beauchamp, she wrote to Murry: ‘Oh, could I bring the flowers, the air the whole heavenly climate as well: this darling little town, these mountains – It is simply a small jewel’. In January 1922, high up in the snowy Swiss Alps, she wrote in her new diary: ‘I love, I long for the fertile earth. How I have longed for the S. of France this year!’

In the fifty years since 1970, the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship has celebrated the connection between New Zealand’s most iconic writer and the town of Menton, allowing a New Zealand writer to live and write for three months or more in the town which Mansfield loved so much. Previous recipients include C. K. Stead, Margaret Scott, Paula Morris, Carl Nixon, Kate Camp, Anna Jackson, Mandy Hager, Greg McGee, Justin Paton, Chris Price, Ken Duncum, Damien Wilkins, Jenny Pattrick, Stuart Hoar, Dame Fiona Kidman, Ian Wedde and other prestigious writers such as Bill Manhire, Janet Frame, Witi Ihimaera, Elizabeth Knox, Lloyd Jones, Roger Hall, Marilyn Duckworth, Michael King and Allen Curnow.

This two-day symposium will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fellowship in 2020.

Suggested topics for papers might include (but are not limited to):

  • The influence of the south of France on Mansfield
  • Mansfield, travel and France
  • Mansfield’s French legacy
  • The French reception of Mansfield’s works
  • Translating Mansfield
  • France and the French as sources for Mansfield’s imagination
  • Teaching and studying Mansfield in France today
  • The influence of French literature on Mansfield
  • Analysis of any of the stories Mansfield wrote in the south of France
  • The legacy of Mansfield in New Zealand writing today.

NB: All other topics relating to Mansfield will be considered.

Abstracts of 200 words, together with a 50-word bio-sketch, should be sent to the conference organiser, Dr Gerri Kimber (University of Northampton, UK), at [email protected]

Submission deadline: 31 March 2020

The Symposium will feature a keynote panel of prestigious New Zealand authors, all former Mansfield Menton Fellows.

Full details: Menton 2020