The Paris Review

Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, and the Benefits of Jealous Friends

Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield

We consider ourselves fortunate to have become friends during our early twenties, back when we were at the very start of our literary journeys. We were both English teachers living in rural Japan, and we had both been writing in secret in between lessons, but it took us almost a year to pluck up the courage to “come out” to each other as aspiring authors. We made our mutual confession over bowls of spaghetti in an eccentric, garlic-themed restaurant. Our delight at discovering a friend with the same dream eclipsed any prospect of possible rivalry.

From that moment on, although our lives took us geographically in different directions, we trod a joint path as writers. After returning home to the UK, we lived many miles apart but helped each other from afar, reassured by the knowledge that our friend was also eschewing a well-paid profession and making do in the

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