Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

MA English




Martha Carpentier, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mary Balkun, Ph.D.


Woolf, Mansfield, Post-Impressionism, Bloomsbury, Roger Fry, Van Gogh, Paintings, Flowers, Fruit


In a letter to Dorothy Brett, Katherine Mansfield responds to Van Gogh’s painting of sunflowers explaining, “That picture seemed to reveal something that I hadn't realised before I saw it. It lived with me afterwards. It still does... They taught me something about writing, which was queer—a kind of freedom—or rather, a shaking free” that she felt after experiencing his painting (O’Sullivan, The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield, 4: 333). The aesthetic emotion resided with her thereafter, as she claimed: “I can smell them as I write” (O’Sullivan, TCLKM, 2: 333). French paintings of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century by Van Gogh and Cezanne illuminated ordinary aspects of life. Roger Fry, a painter, critic, and a member of the Bloomsbury group established the Post-Impressionist movement and its aesthetic theory, which contributed to the transition of British culture. Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf utilized the aesthetic emotion to deliver the individual’s experience to the public. I will analyze Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and “Kew Gardens,” and Katherine Mansfield’s “Bliss” and “Prelude,” to explore how the female authors incorporate Post-Impressionist elements such as fruit, flowers, and painting to produce the aesthetic emotion within their audiences.