In 13 Tagen

‘Sun, roses, fruit, warmth’: Katherine Mansfield, D. H. Lawrence and Aldous Huxley on the Med - Talk by Dr. Gerri Kimber

Synopsis:
From the mid-nineteenth century up to the Second World War, the French Mediterranean coast was perceived as a health-restoring refuge for sufferers of tuberculosis, with its mild climate and proximity to the sea. In addition, for writers and artists in particular, the beauty of the Mediterranean landscape frequently provided creative inspiration. Katherine Mansfield, D. H. Lawrence and Aldous Huxley were three writers all of whom had, intermittently, shared a close friendship. All three would travel to the south of France, in Bandol, staying at the same hotel – the Beau Rivage – at different times, and for different reasons. Mansfield’s first visit to Bandol was in October 1915, before the diagnosis of the tuberculosis that would eventually kill her aged just 34. She had simply needed to escape London and England, where memories of her brother, recently killed in the Great War, were too overwhelming. Her subsequent visit in 1918, tubercular and ill, saw a much-altered, inhospitable town, now ravaged by war. Five years after Mansfield’s death in 1923, Lawrence and his wife Frieda travelled to the south of France in the autumn of 1928, firstly to the tiny, almost deserted Mediterranean island of Port Cros, just across the bay from Hyères, eventually moving to the Hotel Beau Rivage in Bandol the following winter, and subsequently renting the Villa Beau Soleil in the little town. Aldous and Maria Huxley, close friends of the Lawrences, initially made their way to Bandol to see the ailing Lawrence, staying at the Hotel Beau Rivage after his death in 1930, before taking up residence in the then small village of Sanary-surMer, just a short drive away along the coast, where they would remain for several years. ‘Here all is exquisitely lovely’, Huxley would write to his sister-in-law: ‘Sun, roses, fruit, warmth; we bathe and bask’. This talk will explore the time spent by all three writers in Bandol and Sanary-sur-Mer, a place Mansfield also knew well, and assess the influence the area had on their creativity.

Biographical Notes:
Dr Gerri Kimber is Visiting Professor in the Department of English at the University of Northampton, UK. She is the author or editor of nearly 40 books, and has contributed chapters to many other volumes, in addition to numerous journal articles and reviews, notably for the Times Literary Supplement and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She was President of the Katherine Mansfield Society for ten years (2010–2020). Due to her international reputation, Gerri has made numerous media appearances on national radio and television in both New Zealand and the UK and has been invited as a keynote speaker all over the world, including Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, Slovakia, Belgium, France, Germany and the UK. In 2014, she was runner-up for the title of UK New Zealander of the Year, for her services to New Zealand culture. She has recently been commissioned to write a new biography of Katherine Mansfield for Reaktion Books.

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