A Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfields Wellington 1888-1903
How does a city make a writer? Described by Fiona Kidman as a ravishing, immersing read, A Strange Beautiful Excitement is a wild ride through the Wellington of Katherine Mansfields childhood.
From the grubby, wind-blasted streets of Thorndon to the hushed green valley of Karori, author Redmer Yska, himself raised in Karori, retraces Mansfields old ground: the sights, sounds and smells of the rickety colonial capital, as experienced by the budding writer. Along the way his encounters and dogged research -- into her Beauchamp ancestry, the social landscape, the festering, deadly surroundings -- lead him (and us) to reevaluate long-held conclusions about the writers shaping years. They also lead to a thrilling discovery.
This haunting and beautifully vivid book combines fact and fiction, biography and memoir, as Yska rediscovers Mansfields Wellington, unearthing her childhood as he goes, shining a new lamp on old territory.
Longlisted for 2018 Ockham NZ Book Awards - The Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction.
"Its not enough to say I immensely enjoyed A Strange Beautiful Excitement ... its simply splendid." -- Dame Fiona Kidman
"... the best account I have ever read of Wellington and Karori as they were in Mansfields day ... Vivid and vigorous, it is a pleasure to read." -- Kathleen Jones, KM biographer
Redmer Yska is a Wellington-born writer and historian. He has published books about postwar teenagers (bodgies and widgies), Dutch New Zealanders like himself, and a commissioned history of Wellington City. He was awarded the National Library Research Fellowship to write a history of NZ Truth, published in 2010. Yska was the major recipient of a New Zealand History Research Trust Fund Award in 2014, allowing him to write this book.