Visit a turn-up for the books
Katherine Mansfield House & Garden is all about celebrating literature, so it makes sense for its fundraising to do the same.
A new series of events, which will help fund the restoration of the writer’s former family home in Wellington, will see well-known figures discussing their relationships with literature.
It begins with Prime Minister Bill English, who has an honours degree in English literature from Victoria University of Wellington.
Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society president Nicola Saker will host an interview with English.
The society receives an annual grant from the Wellington City Council but extra fundraising is required to help restore the house, Saker says.
‘‘Next year it’s 30 years since the house opened … In that time, a lot has been done, but there’s just a lot of maintenance that needs to be done.
‘‘Carpets need renewing, windows need restoration, all sorts of things.’’
It also wants to improve access for people with disabilities and enhance its educational offerings.
The house looks at ‘‘the spirit of New Zealand through a literary lens’’, Saker says.
‘‘We can look at early Wellington, social history, domestic politics, gender roles. All that kind of thing can be explored through the lenses of Katherine Mansfield.
‘‘I think it’s really interesting for the house to be part of a conversation about the significance of reading and literature and I think a good way of doing it is through people the public knows.’’
Saker says not many people are aware the prime minister studied literature, and during her talk with him she hopes to find out why he did.
‘‘I’d like to find out a whole range of things, what he read as a child and did he read to his children?
‘‘And what were his favourite university English literature papers? What would be his top five books to take to a desert island?
‘‘What book would he recommend to aspiring politicians?’’
‘‘Next year it’s 30 years since the house opened … In that time, a lot has been done, but there’s just a lot of maintenance that needs to be done.’’
Bill English Opens the Books takes place on Thursday, August 1, at Samuel Marsden Collegiate School; 5.30pm-7pm. Tickets and more information from katherinemansfield.com.
New Zealand author Katherine Mansfield, circa 1920.