Sea Foam

I spent much of the afternoon of this humid-damp day finishing reading

The author is one of New Zealand’s finest. ‘Katherine Mansfield (1888โ€“1923) is one of the most highly regarded short story writers of the 20th century. A contemporary of James JoyceVirginia Woolf and D H Lawrence, she played her part in shaping modernism by experimenting with style, subject matter and theme in a body of work that re-defined the genre. As well as short stories she also wrote letters, reviews and journals in a prolific career which was cut short by her untimely death at the age of 34.’ This quotation comes from which describes her rather tragic story.

My view of her stories is that, with fluent, uncluttered, prose she describes her detailed observation of intimate snippets of lives and her surroundings including those absorbed on her travels. The tales selected by Jane Miller are of varying lengths. Three incorporate one particular family, suggesting to me that these could perhaps have formed part of the novel the author never penned.

My own tenuous link with Ms Mansfield is described in

What impresses me most about Jennifer Campbell’s illustrations to this volume is

that within such bold, stylised, outlines she manages to convey the range of emotions reflecting the writer’s own variety.

Late in the gloomy afternoon Jackie drove us down to Milford on Sea where the south westerly wind was surprisingly warm as it whipped

sea foam through the rocks at the seething water’s edge, up into the air, swirling past my nose, and rolling across the promenade, where

walkers enjoyed the view,

while others could be glimpsed through the unseasonable gloom against the backdrop of Hurst Castle. I chose not to brighten up these photographs to demonstrate what the light was like on this early summer afternoon.

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork; wholesome sage and onion stuffing; crisp roast potatoes, some of them sweet, and Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots; and tender greens, with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Colle Marrone Appassimento 2016, a powerful, complex, Italian red wine.


  1. Hasn’t it been a miserable day! But I am delighted to say, Derrick, that for once we have synchronised our reading for I too, amd reading Katherine Mansfield’s short stories and loving them! My book sadly cannot compare with yours being a regular paperback with no illustrations, and I’m reading her second collection – Bliss. But I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of her writing, which I find sublime. I understand that she is a modernist but she must surely be among the most accessible of that group. What might she have gone on to achieve had her life not been cut short!

  2. Not looking at all summery from that header pic today Derrick – could be here! I do love Katherine Mansfield’s writings! I spent my early twenties immersed in her stories and used to wonder around her home area before the great Wellington motorway ploughed it all down and changed the face of Thorndon forever. I should read her again!

  3. I think I need to revisit Katherine Mansfield. I associate her writing with Kate Chopin, among others, but can’t remember a single story! I did get a copy of The Stray, though and am enjoying it (as well as the illustrations.

    1. Thanks very much, Lisa. I’m pleased you like The Stray, and hope Katherine Mansfield will come up to the mark. Kate Chopin I had to look up. Thanks for that.

  4. That is a delightful volume of the very capable writer. That outstanding sketches have enticed readers both young and old for ages is proved by the success of the genre called graphic novels. I wish all books included intermittent sketches to allow us brood over them. I switched back to your post where you had mentioned your tenuous connection with Katherine Mansfield and enjoyed it all over again.

  5. Thank you for the link the Katherine Mansfield. She is new to me. Seems she had a rather short but full life. The illustrations are well done.

    The sea foam photos are beautiful!

  6. Your photos of the ocean and foam recalled a favorite poem by Antonio Machado. The last line is variously translated, but sometimes ‘foam’ makes an appearance. This is another lovely translation:

    “Traveller, the path is your tracks
    And nothing more.
    Traveller, there is no path
    The path is made by walking.
    By walking you make a path
    And turning, you look back
    At a way you will never tread again
    Traveller, there is no road
    Only wakes in the sea.โ€

  7. Jennifer Campbellโ€™s illustrations are perfection! The emotions, the textures, the patterns…capture me in! ๐Ÿ™‚

    The sea foam photos are so beautiful! Everything the waves can do is captivating to watch! ๐Ÿ™‚

    The gloomy days are part of life and help us appreciate the sunny days. ๐Ÿ™‚
    HUGS!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Iโ€™d never heard of Ms. Mansfield. Now Iโ€™ll need to read her short stories. And to think you mightโ€™ve slept where she once slept!

  9. beautiful illustrations! capping the day by the sea is simply delightful! love the sea foam photos! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Gee, for the time that she lived Ms Mansfield was quite a free spirit. I read her brief story via the link you provided and was a bit shocked. Multiple marriages and pregnancies while drifting between men, women and couples. I would imagine she did a fair bit of sofa surfing if she didn’t have family or steady income so who knows, maybe that’s how she paid her way. Seems like she had a lot of adventures in her short life. Thanks for the introduction Derrick. Also enjoyed the sea views, all that mist is good for the complexion I think.

  11. I have never read Katherine Mansfield’s stories (something to look forward to), but the illustrations are as expressive as graphics could possibly be without the use of color, other than pale green background.
    Very dynamic photos of sea foam on the rocks, Derrick.

  12. Love the sea foam. The graphics on the pages you shared are very interesting. The black and white with the green is an interesting combination.

  13. Loving the images of the Breezy grey day and the sea making a splash.

    I noticed on Ivor’s site that he he says his winter temperature today is 12ยฐ which is exactly the temperature up here this morning on our summer day!

  14. Jennifer Campbellโ€™s illustrations are magnificent! Thank you for sharing them, Derrick. You captured the gray, gloomy day perfectly and contrasted it perfectly with the energy of the “sea foam through the rocks at the seething waterโ€™s edge” … Your prose are poetry! I hope you have a sunny day to get out and enjoy your garden today. I am headed to Bozeman. It promises to be clear and sunny here today. The birds are up early chirping the day into being.

  15. Emeritus Professor Elizabeth Webby AM FAHA who “held the Chair of Australian Literature at the University of Sydney from 1990-2007” gave a talk at the Society of Women Writers NSW about Katherine Mansfield. Until then, I had not heard of her. What an extraordinary life and woman. I really, really should chase down a volume of her work.

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