The Swinging Gate: Katherine Mansfield's Missionary Vision


  • I have to thank my wife, Dr Ann H. Marshall, for her support and advice. I also thank the following: St Mark's Library at the General Theological Seminary, New York, the New York Public Library, and the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society in Wellington. Additional information was generously communicated by Vincent O'Sullivan, Sheanangh Guilliard, and the Rev. Brian Blayer.


At the age of thirteen, Mansfield wrote “I want to be a Maori missionary” in her Book of Common Prayer. “The Swinging Gate: Katherine Mansfield's Missionary Vision” by Richard Cappuccio argues that Mansfield's initial diary entry is a lens through which one can read her interests in, rebellion against, and modifications of her Anglican background. The article discusses close readings of her poems “The Sea Child,” “The Butterfly,” and “To L.H. B.” as well as two of her stories — “Prelude,” and “How Pearl Button Was Kidnapped.” In addition it draws on journals and letters to focus on a relationship between Maori systems of belief, her affinities with Frank Harris's “A Holy Man (After Tolstoi),” and her final observations about G. I. Gurdjieff.