Heritage & Monuments

Katherine Mansfield Statue

New Zealand / The Pacific

The Katherine Mansfield Statue is situated on the northwest corner of the popular Midland Park and titled ‘Woman of Words’ to commemorate the life and work of Wellington and New Zealand’s most internationally recognised literary figure. Woman of Words is a contemporary sculpture; a three metre high stainless steel figure, depicting Katherine Mansfield striding along the Quay. The entire surface of the sculpture is laser cut with words and phrases from her writing presenting information about Mansfield the writer, the woman and her New Zealand childhood.Katherine Mansfield was a short story writer. Her parents were prominent socially in Wellington, her father, Sir Harold Beauchamp, being a banker, who became Chairman of the Bank of New Zealand, while her grandfather, Arthur Beauchamp was briefly Member of Parliament for Picton. She was a cousin of the author, Countess Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941). She was born at Thorndon, Wellington and attended Wellington Girls’ High School, the family returning to live in Wellington from 1898. She became disillusioned by New Zealand, in particular the way the Māori people were treated. Between 1903 and 1906 she attended school in London, returning to New Zealand, where she began to write short stories. In 1908 she moved permanently to London, where she was soon living a Bohemian existence.She married George Bowden on 2 March 1909, but left him that very evening. They divorced in 1918. Meanwhile, in 1911 she entered into a relationship with John Middleton Murry, editor of a magazine called Rhythm. They married in 1918 but often lived apart.She was much affected by the death of her younger brother, Leslie Heron ‘Chummie’ Beauchamp, serving as a soldier in France in 1915. At the end of 1917 she was diagnosed with tuberculosis, thereafter seeking varied cures in Europe. At this time she wrote the short story, Bliss. Two volumes of her short stories were later published – Bliss in 1920, and The Garden Party in 1922. She died in 1923 and Murry published much of her work posthumously. Many schools in New Zealand have houses named after her.During the day the sculpture reflects the movement, colours and ambience of the surrounding area. At night, Woman of Word becomes an illuminated lantern.

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