The Katherine Mansfield Society has just announced the winner of this year’s essay prize, which has been awarded for a scholarly essay on the theme of Katherine Mansfield and Elizabeth von Arnim. The prize-winning essay, written by Dr. Juliane Römhild, is entitled “After Life: Expressions of Mourning in Elizabeth von Arnim and Katherine Mansfield.”
The judges for this year’s prize were Professor David Trotter (University of Cambridge), Claire Tomalin (renowned biographer and author of Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life), Professor Susan Sellers (University of St Andrew’s) and Dr Isobel Maddison (Lecturer and Director of Studies, Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge).
Römhild‘s essay considers two of von Arnim’s novels, Christine and In the Mountains, through the double lens of wartime mourning and biographical research. Römhild argues that grief was a feeling shared by both Elizabeth von Arnim and Katherine Mansfield in 1921 when they lived close by each other in Switzerland. The judges admired Römhild’s painstaking archival research, which unearthed a private collection of letters that underpins this essay. Professor Trotter, the chair of judges, commented that the work undoubtedly represents an original contribution to knowledge, illuminating a particular dimension of the relationship between these two key early-twentieth-century writers, who were also cousins
In addition, the judges highly commended an essay submitted by independent scholar Richard Cappuccio entitled “Strange Monsters: The Struggle for Women’s Validity as Artists in the Writings of Elizabeth von Arnim and Katherine Mansfield.” The judges praised the deft way in which Cappuccio’s essay addresses the harsh demands made on the female artist by social convention as presented in the writing of both authors.
Dr. Juliane Römhild is a lecturer at La Trobe University, Melbourne, where she works on British and German interwar literature. She has published widely and is the author of Femininity and Authorship in the Novels of Elizabeth von Arnim: At Her Most Radiant Moment (2014). She is a founding member of the International Elizabeth von Arnim Society. Römhild will receive £200 as part of the essay prize; additionally, both her essay and that of Richard Cappuccio will appear in Volume 11 of the Katherine Mansfield Society’s annual yearbook, Katherine Mansfield Studies. Entitled Katherine Mansfield and Elizabeth von Arnim, the yearbook will be published by Edinburgh University Press in 2019.