World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Little Governess

Article Id: WHEBN0011788626
Reproduction Date:

Title: The Little Governess  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Katherine Mansfield
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Little Governess

"The Little Governess" is a 1915 short story by Katherine Mansfield. It was first published in Signature on 18 October 1915 under the pen name of Matilda Berry, and later reprinted in Bliss and Other Stories.[1]

Plot summary

After receiving advice from the lady at the Governess Bureau, a young and naive French governess (referred to throughout as "the little governess") is off on the train from France to Munich, from where she will go to a new house for work. The governess has never been abroad before, and is duly forewarned of the dangers by the lady at the Governess Bureau, who tells her to "mistrust people at first". She is harassed by a porter on the way to her train, and once aboard, by a group of rowdy French men. The porter, dissatisfied with the pay that he has received, tears away the 'Ladies Only' sign on the carriage that the governess sits. An old man, "at least ninety", sits in her quarter, and the pair begin talking. She finds out he is German; he lets her look at his newspapers. Then the train stops because of a hitch on the track, and he buys her some strawberries; the train gets going again. He insists on showing her around Munich and she agrees. At the station, he walks her to her hotel, and she sees the shabby room she was supposed to stay in all day and wait for Frau Arnholdt to take her to her new house.

They take a stroll in Munich, then go to a museum, then to the Englischer Garten. She doesn't have the time and wants to return to her hotel, but he suggests having an ice cream before she leaves. She gushes, telling him that "this has been the happiest day of my life." She has begun to perceive the old man, who is a Regierungsrat (senior civil servant), as a sort of grandfather. After the ice cream, he insists that she comes up to his apartment, to see his home and receive an attar of roses, "for remembrance". When up in his apartment, he offers her wine, and kisses her without her consent. In shock ("It was a dream! It wasn't true!") she runs out into the street and takes a cab back to the hotel, where she is told Frau Arnholdt came and left when the manager told her he did not know when she would be back.


  • The Little Governess
  • The lady at the governess bureau
  • Porter at the train station
  • The old man sitting opposite her on the train. He is German.
  • Frau Arnholdt, a woman supposed to take her from Munich to her new house in Augsburg.

Major themes

  • Naivety
  • Appearances vs Reality
  • Disillusionment
  • Vulnerability

Literary significance

The text is written in the modernist mode, without a set structure, and with many shifts in the narrative.


External links

  • Full text
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.