02 Sep 2009
This September will see a week of festivities in Menton, France, to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of New Zealand’s most glittering annual literary award, the former Katherine Mansfield Fellowship, now known as the New Zealand Post Mansfield Prize.
The prize, which is worth $100,000, is overseen by the Winn Manson Menton Trust and sponsored by New Zealand Post. It allows a New Zealand writer to live in Menton for up to six months, and to use the writing room at the Villa Isola Bella, where Mansfield once lived.
During the week of 21-27 September, a large number of people will converge on Menton to participate in a richly varied programme, which will begin with a reception attended by the New Zealand Ambassador to France and will culminate in a symposium on Katherine Mansfield, organised by the UK-based Katherine Mansfield Society.
Other activities during the week will include a seminar, a demonstration of New Zealand culinary delights, a reading of Katherine Mansfield’s letters to her husband, and a book display of New Zealand authors. Towards the end of the week, New Zealand and French judges will announce the results of a short story competition hosted by the France-New Zealand Association.
The Mairie de Menton (Menton Municipality), which also maintains the writing room in the Villa Isola Bella, is hosting the celebrations in partnership with the New Zealand Embassy in Paris. A group of Winn Manson Trustees will attend the festivities, together with former fellows, Vincent O’Sullivan, CK Stead, Fiona Farrell, Stuart Hoar and the current holder of the prize, Jenny Pattrick. Other participants will include the French Ambassador to New Zealand, Michel Legras.
Chair of the Winn Manson Menton Trust, Richard Cathie, says that the Menton fellowship has been a significant contributor to the development of New Zealand literature and has enhanced the international reputation of many of its recipients. It is gratifying, he says, that the French people are prepared to acknowledge the impact of the fellowship over forty years on the town of Menton, reciprocated in turn by the influence of the Côte d’Azur on so many of our New Zealand writers.