Katherine Mansfield was born Katherine Beauchamp in Wellington, New Zealand on October 14, 1888, the third daughter of a prominent banker. She attended the Wellington College for Girls before entering Queen's College in London in 1903. Her interest in the cello led to lessons at the Royal Academy of Music, where she became secretly engaged to a young prodigy named Arnold Trowell, who already had a successful concert career. Upon being summoned back to New Zealand by her father in 1906, she decided to abandon music in favor of writing. She soon had three stories published in a Melbourne monthly and gained her father's consent to return to England. Once there, she became depressed when she found that Trowell no longer loved her, and she rushed into a hasty marriage to a young musician, only to leave him a few days later. She had a miscarriage, which marked the beginning of her decline in health. After returning to England in 1910, Katherine Beauchamp published her work under the name Katherine Mansfield. A collection of her stories, "In a German Pension," was published in 1911. A year later, she met John Middleton Murry, who eventually became her second husband when she was finally able to secure a divorce. By the time of this marriage in 1918, Mansfield was found to have tuberculosis. Her ill health, combined with the death of her brother in World War I, turned the focus of her work inward and on her homeland. Her memoirs, collected in a book entitled "Bliss," secured her reputation as a writer, and she followed it up with the equally acclaimed "Garden Party and Other Stories." Her lyrical style and stream of consciousness method placed her along side James Joyce and Virginia Woolf for her strength of characterization and her subtlety of detail. Katherine Mansfield died on January 9, 1923 at the Gurdjieff Institute for the Harmonic Development of Man at Fontainebleau.
Jane Austen's life is striking for the contrast between the great works she wrote in secret and the outward appearance of being quite dull and ordinary. Austen was born in the small English town of Steventon in Hampshire, and educated at home by her clergyman father. She was deeply devoted to her family. For a short time, the Austens lived in the resort city of Bath, but when her father died, they returned to Steventon, where Austen lived until her death at the age of 41. Austen was drawn to literature early, she began writing novels that satirized both the writers and the manners of the 1790's. Her sharp sense of humor and keen eye for the ridiculous in human behavior gave her works lasting appeal. She is at her best in such books as Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816), in which she examines and often ridicules the behavior of small groups of middle-class characters. Austen relies heavily on conversations among her characters to reveal their personalities, and at times her novels read almost like plays. Several of them have, in fact, been made into films. She is considered to be one of the most beloved British authors.