Four previously unknown Katherine Mansfield short stories have been discovered by a student in London, it is reported.
A PhD student at London's King's College made the discovery while digging through the universities archives, finding three children's fairy tales from 1908 and a story which is said to offer great autobiographical insight into a period of turmoil in Mansfield's life, The Independent reported.
Student Chris Mourant, 23, contacted Dr Gerri Kimber, senior lecturer at the University of Northampton, who was co-editing the first complete edition of Mansfield's fiction. It was just about to go to print.
"My jaw dropped," Dr Kimber said. The new stories will now be included as an appendix.
Three are charming, children's fairy tales from 1908 and the fourth has "huge biographical significance", Dr Kimber said, describing it as "brilliant" and "unputdownable".
A Little Episode is a 2500 word story dating from 1909, and reveals the bitter disillusionment of a love triangle whose memory Mansfield tried to erase by destroying all her personal papers from that year.
It was written when she was 20, and parallels her affairs with musician Garnet Trowell, who got her pregnant before rejecting her, and singing teacher George Bowden, who she married and rejected on their wedding night.
In the story, Yvonne (Mansfield), a "bruised, trembling soul", is deeply in love with Jacques St Pierre (Trowell), a musician with a "pouting, eager mouth", and is married to Lord Mandeville (Bowden), whom she despises as a "howling bore" and who fills her with an "intolerable disgust".
"You see the bitterness that she feels against Garnet... and their unborn child, as perceived in the callous portrayal of a musician called Jacques St Pierre," Dr Kimber told The Independent.
The discovery also includes previously unknown photographs.
Mourant found the material among documents relating to ADAM International Review, a 20th-century literary monthly. The Mansfield stories were given to its founding editor, Miron Grindea, by her close friend Ida Baker, in the 1960s.
- © Fairfax NZ News