Christmas 1914


to Annie Burnell Beauchamp
Rose Tree Cottage, The Lee, Buckinghamshire

My darling little mother,
It is very cold. We have had several falls of snow and the ground is frozen hard, but I love such weather at Christmas time. We are having a Christmas party at our friends the Lawrences on Christmas Eve, and the Cannans are giving a dinner with Charades to follow on Christmas day and some friends of theirs a party on Boxing Day. So Mary Cannan has asked us to go and stay with them from Christmas Eve until the festivities are over. It will be great fun, I expect.

I am always your own devoted child.

Indeed it was fun! An improvised play was acted out, and I’ll let painter Mark Gertler explain the outcome:

to Lytton Strachey
32 Elder Street, E. London

The only exciting thing that happened were parties — one given by Lawrence and the other by Cannan. These were really fun. On both occasions we all got drunk! The second party, I got so drunk that I made violent love to Katherine Mansfield! She returned it, also being drunk. I ended the evening by weeping bitterly at having kissed another man’s woman, and everybody trying to console me. Drink has curious and various effects of me. This party was altogether an extraordinary one. So interesting was it that all the writers of Cholesbury feel inspired to use it in their work.

And in another letter:

to Dora Carrington
January 1915
32 Elder Street, E. London

My holiday in Cholesbury this time was not altogether a success, I think mostly because of Mrs. Gomm’s wretched and uncomfortable rooms. I took my work with me but couldn’t work, so I came home some days before the fortnight was up.

The most exciting things that happened were the Christmas parties. There were real fun. Katherine Mansfield was so good. Gilbert Cannan’s party was most extraordinarily exciting: Katherine and myself — both very drunk — made passionate love to each other in front of everybody! And everybody was drunk too. No one knew whether to take it as a joke or scandal. Fortunately, the next day everybody decided to take it as a joke — the Lawrences were the last to come to this decision, as they were most anxious to weave a real romance out of it. Seeing that Katherine’s man and myself were just as friendly afterwards, they had to take it as a joke. They were very disappointed to have to take it so. I like Katherine Mansfield.


  • Carrington, Noel (ed.) (1965) Collected Letters: Mark Gertler London: Rupert Hart-Davis.
  • O’Suliivan, Vincent and Scott, Margaret (eds.) (1984) Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield Volume I Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 144