Published in 1922, The Garden Party and other stories is Katherine Mansfield’s third and most acclaimed collection of short stories. It includes the title story, ‘At the Bay’, and ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’, shown here.
Widely regarded as a pioneer of the form, Mansfield focussed on capturing the psychology and inner lives of characters through free indirect discourse and ‘epiphanies’ (sudden moments of realisation and insight). Unlike traditional narratives, the stories typically begin in the heart of a moment and end abruptly. Mansfield strove for absolute precision and distillation, writing in a letter that, ideally, ‘there mustn’t be one single word out of place, or one word that can be taken out’. From contemporaries including Virginia Woolf to later writers such as Alice Munro and Philip Larkin, Mansfield’s influence and contribution to literary modernism extends throughout the 20th century.
Many of the The Garden Party stories were written between 1920 and 1921 when Mansfield was seriously ill with tuberculosis. Her determination to continue working was upheld throughout the last weeks of her life, when she began to learn Russian. Mansfield died in January 1923 at the age of 34.