Story: City images

'The garden party'

'The garden party'

Katherine Mansfield’s writing provides evocative images of early 20th century city life. Among these were class relations, famously represented in 'The garden party'. The child protagonist, Laura Sheridan, is preparing for a garden party at her wealthy family’s home when she hears a worker from a group of nearby cottages has been killed. She proposes cancelling the party as a mark of respect, but this is greeted by her family with derision and the party goes ahead.

The large house on the hill in this 1893 photograph was Mansfield’s Wellington home and the setting for 'The garden party'. The flooded cottages in the foreground are those in the story. It describes them as ‘little mean dwellings ... The very smoke coming out of their chimneys was poverty-stricken. Little rags and shreds of smoke, so unlike the great silvery plumes that uncurled from the Sheridans’ chimneys.’

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, Making New Zealand Centennial Collection (PAColl-3060)
Reference: MNZ-1348-1/2-G

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Ben Schrader, 'City images - The city in literature', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 1 July 2022)

Story by Ben Schrader, published 11 Mar 2010