Katherine Mansfield: Lawrence's real
Lost Girl

by Sandra Jobson


b 1888

Katherine Mansfield was a vivid and unconventional young woman whose short stories still rank among the best in the genre.

She left New Zealand permanently for London in 1907 with a driving ambition to write, producing X short stories and copious diaries and notebooks during her brief lifetime.

Her delicate features attracted the interest of silent filmmakers and a number of men, including her husband, the literary critic John Middleton Murray.

She met DH Lawrence in 1912. Between 1913 and 1918 she and Lawrence mixed with London literary society, including the Bloomsburies' Katherine lived next door to Lawrence and Frieda in Cornwall in 1915.

She died of tuberculosis in 1923.

b 1885
d 1930

Lawrence met Katherine in 1912 when she and John Middleton Murry were editing a small literary magazine.

Lawrence had recently eloped with Frieda Weekly and Katherine Mansfield and John Middleton Murry attended their wedding where Frieda gave Katherine her discarded wedding ring from her first marriage.

Lawrence and Mansfield found a close affinity with one another, both being "outsiders" in London literary society.

Lawrence portrayed aspects of Katherine as Gudrun in Womanin Love, and, as this article will show, as Alvina Houghton in The Lost Girl.

Lawrence visited Australia in 1922 where he wrote Kangaroo.

He died of tuberculosis in 1930.


OST of the major research and editing of the works of DH Lawrence has now been done, leaving Lawrence scholarship today resembling an abandoned goldfield. Nevertheless, the occasional small nugget can still turn up.

I have been the fortunate fossicker to stumble on one such overlooked nugget, and the reason, I believe, it fell to me is that I am an Antipodean and thus came across something in Lawrence's writing which would not have alerted the ears of the Lawrence academic fraternity which is predominantly located in the northern hemisphere in England and the USA.

My nugget is my discovery that Lawrence based much of the


character of Alvina Houghton in his 1920 novel, The Lost Girl, on the New Zealand-born short story writer, Katherine Mansfield.

Until now, the accepted wisdom was that he based Alvina on Florence Cullen, whom he had known in his Midlands youth. This is true up to a point. The early Alvina and her family resememble Florence and the Cullens. But the later Alvina, as I will show, is a different character, resembling Mansfield and mirroring several incidents in her life.

In short, it is my contention that Katherine Mansfield was in fact Lawrence's "Lost Girl".

next page