Katherine Mansfield - The Doll’s House

A Video Talk

This brilliant short story set in Karori, NZ, is deceptively simple, evocative and deeply memorable. Join a little group of children in a Kiwi playground, and see for yourself that painted doll’s house and “the little lamp”.

Katherine Mansfield is New Zealand’s most famous writer. She was born in Wellington in 1888 and moved to Europe in 1908, where she wrote some of the best short stories in the English language. She died at age 34 of tuberculosis.

“It is the unbearable poignancy of that last line, ‘I seen the little lamp’, that continues to haunt.”
― Margaret Drabble

Social distinctions

Katherine Mansfield’s short story The Doll’s House was first published in a UK weekly newspaper in 1922. It is a simple tale – the Burnell children have been given a doll’s house and want to show off their new plaything to the other children at the school. Their school in Karori is a social melting pot and the children have been given strict instructions, by snobbish parents, not to mix with the Kelveys, children of the town washerwoman, and a man who might, or might not, be in prison.

Gradually all the children are invited to admire the glamorous new doll’s house, which is particularly admired because in its tiny dining room is a little amber lamp that looks as if it has been filled with oil, ready for lighting. Although the two Kelvey girls, Lil and Else, have been excluded from the treat. But Kezia Burnell has something more of independence than her sisters and one day, swinging on the gate, she sees the Kelvey girls walking along the road and, on an impulse, invites them in to look.

This brilliant short story has become a New Zealand classic, often studied in schools and universities. It is a close to perfect example of what a short story ought to be, creating a whole little world, moments of drama and pathos, vividly real characters.

New Zealand’s greatest writer and her truly brilliant short story

Katherine Mansfield had a problematic relationship with her home country of New Zealand and left it at the age of 19, never to return. However, it would be the setting of most of her finest stories, so in many ways, while she left New Zealand, the country never left her. She was a troubled and difficult woman, struggling with ill health, relationships with strange men, and spending her later years travelling to places where a warm climate might cure her TB.

Learn more about this fascinating person and discover what it was that made her such a great woman. Virginia Woolf, who knew her, once commented that Katherine Mansfield was the only writer of whom she had ever felt jealous!

Join me to learn more about New Zealand’s greatest writer and a truly brilliant short story.

Purchase access to the Zoom Talk and video (just $15) AU

This Video Talk is a real treat! Taken from a live-streamed presentation, it has been carefully recorded and completely edited to deliver the experience of being part of an audience and having the best seat in the house. It includes over 60 minutes of intriguing stories about the author to help you understand what prompted this book to be written. The main characters and their roles are identified, the themes behind the story are analysed, and a description of the influence that the era, lifestyle and circumstances have on the book’s setting. It is illustrated with photographs, paintings and illustrations – you’ll have plenty to look at while you listen.

100% guaranteed. If you don’t feel my talk is great value for money, please let me know why and I will refund your purchase price.

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Just $15. Buy it now – you’ll receive access details by return email.

Discuss it with me

This brilliant short story set in Karori, NZ, is deceptively simple, evocative and deeply memorable. Do you agree? Let’s discuss it here.

Just LOVED your talk on ‘Miss Jean Brodie’. Thank you so much for taking me to Edinburgh as well as into the life of Muriel Spark. I never knew the character of Jean was based on one of Muriel Spark’s own teachers.
Fabulous, spellbinding lecture, Susannah.
I’ve just watched your video of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and it was delightful as always. I can’t overstate how much I’m enjoying this series, and how greatly you’re expanding my knowledge and interests (I’d read this book some time ago but the talk has added yet more books to my must-read list!).
With your joie de vie and passion for literature, you will always be in your prime Susannah!

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Featured image credit- Leopold Bloom by James Joyce, https://publicdomainreview.org/essay/seeing-joyce

Comments (2)

  1. Heather Grant

    I also have another book on Katherine Mansfield entitled “Catherine Mansfield – The Woman and the Writer” by Gillian Goddy who was born in Rotorua, a town detested by Katherine!!! I haven’t read it for a long time but will now reread it.

    Love Katherine Mansfield’s short stories particularly the ones set in New Zealand.

    Looking forward to seeing the video.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I don’t know that book about her. Yes, she hated the smell of Rotorua!
      I hope you enjoy tomorrow’s talk.

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