Katherine Mansfield

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Beatrice Hastings

Beatrice Hastings was a powerful influence on the younger Katherine, who named her ‘Biggy B’; the two women collaborated on many satirical pieces. However when Katherine and Murry started the rival Rhythm in 1912, the New Age published an unsigned review of a story by Miss K. Mansfield accusing it of no single relief of wisdom or of wit”.


By her own admission, Beatrice had a temper not to be trifled with. She had met Orage at a theosophical lecture in London in 1906. Afterwards, in the smoking room, I rallied him on his perverse loquacity (of the which I later detected every trick).”

They became friends and before long “Aphrodite had amused herself at our expense”. For the next ten years Beatrice poured her vitriolic wit into the New Age on social and moral subjects, not least the ‘Woman Question’.


In 1914 Beatrice abandoned Orage for Amadeo Modigliani with whom she had a tempestuous relationship in Montparnasse. She nevertheless remained faithful to the New Age, contributing vivid and sometimes surreal ‘Impressions de Paris’.


In 1943 - ravaged by age and drink; ill; impoverished spurned by the literary establishment - Beatrice burned her correspondence, stuffed a towel under the door, cradled her little white mouse in her hand and turned the gas on. Her life had been lived with a stylish bravery, which Katherine would have applauded. She is immortalised in Modigliani's paintings.

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