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Katherine Mansfield’s Legacy

Who was Katherine Mansfield? She was a writer of short stories. She is probably our most famous writer. She died from Tuberculosis (TB) in 1923, aged 34. At that time she was living in Menton, France.

She was born in Wellington but left home to go to England when she was only 19. Although she was unhappy in New Zealand, ironically some of her best short stories are set in New Zealand, based on her early life.

One legacy is an award for a New Zealand writer to spend 6 months in Menton where Katherine Mansfield lived until her death. The award pays for transport and accommodation for the winner, and is a chance for a writer to write full-time without worrying about money. The first award was made in 1970. There has been one award every year since then.

However, now the Trust which awards this prize needs money. In the past, money came from sponsorship. Recently New Zealand Post was the main sponsor. Now it is much harder to find private money every year so the Trust is trying to raise $800,000 to invest. This money will bring in $40,000 a year at 5% interest. Each prize is about $75,000 so in future, the prize will only be awarded every two years.

Many of our best writers – of poetry, fiction or non-fiction – have spent 6 months at Menton.

Vocabulary

• irony (n), ironically (adv) – it is ironic because the place she hated gave her very good material to write about
• legacy – something valuable to remember a person after s/he dies
• award (n, v) – a prize (n), to give a prize (v)
• a Trust (n) – a person or people who look after money for the benefit of others