This autograph draft of Katherine Mansfield’s short story, ‘A Suburban Fairy Tale’, is dated 15 March 1919. Written in black ink, Mansfield’s handwriting is initially fairly controlled and readable, though a little messy, and gradually becomes larger and looser as the story goes on.
Set around a dining table at breakfast within the context of wartime rationing, ‘A Suburban Fairy Tale’ tells the story of a sensitive, malnourished child, Little B, ‘under-sized for his age, with legs like macaroni, tiny claws, soft, soft hair that felt like mouse fur, and big wide-open eyes’. As his neglectful parents eat, and talk and dream of rich food and drink, Little B is transfixed by the sparrows outside the window, crying for food. The birds transform into small, hungry boys, which leads Little B, after his pleas are ignored by Mr and Mrs B, to join their flock and fly away.
When compared to Mansfield’s greatest works such as ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’, the story may appear sentimental and lacking subtlety. It is interesting as an example, however, of Mansfield’s constant and evolving experiments with genre and narrative voice.
Mansfield chose not to publish ‘A Suburban Fairy Tale’ during her lifetime. It was posthumously printed in Something Childish and other stories (1924), edited by Mansfield’s husband, John Middleton Murry.
- Full title:
- A Suburban Fairy Tale', a short story dated 15 March 1919. Autograph draft.
- 15 March 1919
- Manuscript / Draft
- Katherine Mansfield
- Usage terms
© The Society of Authors as the Literary Representative of the Estate of Katherine Mansfield. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.
- Held by
- British Library
- Add MS 62128
- Article by:
- Stephanie Forward
- Literature 1900–1950, Capturing and creating the modern, Exploring identity
Katherine Mansfield was a pioneer of the modern short story. Here Stephanie Forward provides close readings of three short stories from Mansfield’s celebrated 1922 collection, The Garden Party and Other Stories.