Katherine Mansfield was born in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1888 and died in Fontainebleau in 1923. She came to London for the latter part of her education, and could not settle down back in Wellington society; in 1908 she again left for Europe, never to return. Her first writing (apart from some early sketches) was published in The New Age, to which she became a regular contributor. Her first book, In a German Pension, was published in 1911. In 1912 she began to write for Rhythm, edited by John Middleton Murry, whom she eventually married.
She was a conscious modernist, an experimenter in life and writing, and mixed with others of her kind, including D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf. With 'Prelude' in 1916 she evolved her distinctive voice as a writer of short fiction. By 1917 she had contracted tuberculosis, and from that time led a wandering life in search of health. Her second book of stories, Bliss, was published in 1921, and her third, The Garden Party, appeared a year later. It was the last book to be published in her lifetime. After her death, two more collections of stories were published, also her Letters and later her Journal.
Virginia Woolf wrote of Katherine Mansfield: 'She was for ever pursued by her dying, and had to press on through stages that should have taken years in ten minutes … She had a quality I adored and needed; I think her sharpness and reality – her having knocked about with prostitutes and so on, whereas I had always been respectable – was the thing I wanted then. I dream of her often …'