Christmas 1920


to Dorothy Brett
Villa Isola Bella, Menton, France

I wonder where you will be for Christmas. Having [Murry] with me has turned it into a fete. My treasured Marie is determined that Christmas shall be kept well and bought The Mistletoe all in readiness for the arrival of Monsieur. The kitchen is a progression of still lives from a poor dead bird leaning its tired head on a tuft of water-cress (oh, how awful it looks!) onwards. And because the weather is chill, blue and white weather, log fires roar in the chimleys. This little house is a perfect darling. It’s not beautiful, it’s shabby and the bedroom wall paper is baskets of pink flowers and in the dining room there is a big corpse of a clock that sometimes at dreadful intervals and for no reason begins to chime — never to tick. But there is a feeling over everything as though it were a real resting-place. I have taken it until the end of 1922 and even so I’m frightened at the idea of saying goodbye to it then. I love this country, too, more and more. It is winter now — many trees are bare, but the oranges, tangerines and lemons are all ripe; they burn in this clear atmosphere — the lemons with gentle flames, the tangerines with bright flashes, and the oranges sombre. My tiny peach tree still clings to a few exquisite leaves — curved like peaches — and the violets are just beginning.

More and more (for how long? no matter. A moment is for ever) one lives — really lives…

Are you childish about the New Year? Do you feel it is a mystery and that if your friends wish you a happy one — happiness does come beating its beautiful wings out of the darkness towards you?


  • Middleton Murry, J. (ed.) (1929) The Letters of Katherine Mansfield Volume II Glasgow: The University Press. pp. 358