A Kiwi scholar has discovered what is thought to be a previously undocumented short story by New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield.

Dr Martin Griffiths, from Hamilton, was writing an article for the Katherine Mansfield Society's newsletter when he unexpectedly came across the story in a 1910 edition of The Star - a Sydney newspaper - that he believes was written by the modernist writer, who died in France in 1923.

"It was a mind-blowing moment really," he told the Herald on Sunday.

"I was stunned. I kind of didn't believe it at first. I just sort of looked at it and thought that can't be right, I must be imagining this."

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Griffiths was searching the Australian National Library website when he came across the story on page 12 of the June 25, 1910, edition.

The half-page read is titled The Thawing of Anthony Wynscombe, and is bylined Katherine R. Mansfield.

"I noticed the spelling of her name was different because she'd included an initial, but I also know she changed her name quite a lot for her writing and used a lot of pseudonyms - she often called herself Katharina or Kathleen," Griffiths said.

"This is not a form that was ever used so I thought it could be a person that is not her, so I did a search for the name and it didn't come up.

The half page read is titled The Thawing of Anthony Wynscombe, and is bylined Katherine R. Mansfield. Image / National Library of Australia website
The half page read is titled The Thawing of Anthony Wynscombe, and is bylined Katherine R. Mansfield. Image / National Library of Australia website

"I put two and two together because she had a sister in Sydney, and I also found a poem by Katherine Mansfield in the same newspaper in the same month.

"I realised I'd come across a short story by Katherine Mansfield that had never been included in any anthologies of her work or published in any book form, and was not known by the entire community of scholars or readers," he said.

Griffiths made the discovery about eight weeks ago but said he kept it quiet until he was able to attend the Katherine Mansfield Society conference in Krakow, Poland, last week.

"It was very exciting and I desperately wanted to tell people but I thought I mustn't do that right this second because they need to verify it first," he said.

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Kiwi writer Katherine Mansfield. Photo /Getty Images
Kiwi writer Katherine Mansfield. Photo /Getty Images

Dr Gerri Kimber, chairwoman of the society and a renowned scholar, said Griffiths had made a "compelling case" at the conference.

However, the jury was still out to categorically determine it was one of her pieces.

She and others had done some initial research but no one was yet able to determine whether it was Mansfield or find anyone else using that particular name, which gave Griffiths' discovery more credence because she was known for her use of pseudonyms.

"It's very tantalising ... I would not want to say that it's not by her ... I think it's best to keep an open mind," Kimber said from the south of France

"We were very excited when Martin gave his paper. He's obviously done a lot of research. But I think we do need to keep the door open to allow Martin to do more research."

Dr Martin Griffiths, from Hamilton, came across the story in a 1910 edition of The Star - a Sydney newspaper. Photo / Supplied
Dr Martin Griffiths, from Hamilton, came across the story in a 1910 edition of The Star - a Sydney newspaper. Photo / Supplied

She said Griffiths would now work with linguists at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow who have software to help determine, on a percentage probability status, the legitimacy of the work by analysing the writer's use of words.

Griffiths said they were now working to get it verified, with an expert in writing style booked in to try to determine whether it's stylistically consistent with Mansfield's style.

Griffiths said the story itself was about reconciliation and friendship.

"It's set in the UK in a fictitious town. There is a falling-out and reconciliation between two men. It's sort of a love story as well," he said.

"There is a gun involved and an explosion where a man is blinded, which I think wasn't uncommon in those days."

Dr Gerri Kimber said the discovery of the undocumented short story is exciting but more research did need to be carried out to categorically prove its authenticity. Photo / Supplied
Dr Gerri Kimber said the discovery of the undocumented short story is exciting but more research did need to be carried out to categorically prove its authenticity. Photo / Supplied

Although the story itself will have no monetary value - because it's not a manuscript and was printed in a newspaper - Griffiths said it was a "hugely important" discovery.

"In terms of her writing it's hugely important because she only lived to the age of 34 and there were only a small number of stories. So every time there is one added it's hugely important," he said.

In 1910 Mansfield wasn't yet famous, and hadn't published her first book, but she had three stories published in Melbourne in 1907 and 1908, and one story, The Education of Audrey, in 1909.

Another previously undocumented short story by Mansfield was discovered in 2012 by PhD student Chris Mourant in the King's College London archives.

Griffiths, who has been a member of the Katherine Mansfield Society for 10 years, said he was drawn to her work through their mutual interest in music.

"Katherine Mansfield was a musician, a cellist - and so am I. My wife and I play music that she performed or knew.

"She also had a relationship with Arnold Trowell who I wrote a PhD on."

Griffiths has a PhD in music, is an itinerant teacher of music, and plays with the Opus Orchestra.