The practical patriarch of the Burnell family, Stanley’s life is dictated by his schedule. He has little time for frivolity and expects the women of his household to follow suit. Stanley overcompensates for his own insecurities by being somewhat distant and formal to his family. He feels under-appreciated and yet he would be utterly lost without them, especially Linda, whom he lovingly adores.
Linda Burnell (“At the Bay”)
A remorseful character, Linda is introduced as the neglectful wife of Stanley and mother of Isabel, Kezia, Lottie, and “the boy.” She dislikes motherhood and has no love for her children, believing herself ruined by too much childbirth. Linda selfishly pawns her children off to her mother and sister and spends her days lounging in an effort to gather her strength so that she is able to anticipate Stanley’s needs. Linda laments her lot in life until her own baby boy awakens within her a love she did know she was capable of experiencing.
Beryl Fairchild ("At the Bay")
Unmarried, Beryl lives with her sister, Linda, in the Burnell bungalow. She helps take care of the children and run the household but her ambitions lie elsewhere. Beryl longs to have a family and husband of her own, but, despite her beauty, she fears she will always remain alone. She takes into her confidence Mrs. Harry Kember, who encourages her to seek out men and have many sexual partners before settling down. Unfortunately Beryl is tempted by this notion when Mr. Harry Kember himself shows up at her home in the middle of the night for a sexual liaison. As he leads her away, Beryl realizes the dangers of allowing her desires to overrule her common sense.
Jonathan Trout (“At the Bay”)
Brother-in-law to Linda Burnell and Beryl Fairchild, father of Pip and Rags. Jonathan is a carefree individual who prefers to glide through life uninterrupted by responsibility. Yet, underneath his poet’s exterior lies the regrets of a man who has settled for a life of practicality that he is neither familiar with nor adaptable to. Although he recognizes his responsibilities to his family he cannot help but feel trapped within his own life and yet he lacks the self-confidence to break free.
Mrs. Fairchild ("At the Bay")
Mother to Linda and Beryl. Mrs. Fairchild lives with the Burnells in a modest room and helps to take care of the children. She is also the grandmother of Pip and Rags.
Isabel Burnell ("At the Bay")
Possibly the oldest Burnell child. Isabel does not have much in the way of personality but takes charge of her sisters during play and games.
Kezia Burnell ("At the Bay")
An inquisitive child and unofficial leader of the Burnell sisters, Kezia is imaginative and kind. She is especially affectionate toward Lottie. Kezia and her grandmother, Mrs. Fairchild, discuss the inevitability of death, and Kezia has trouble understanding the complex concept.
Lottie Burnell ("At the Bay")
The youngest Burnell daughter, Lottie is an optimistic child. Although somewhat forgetful, she is spirited and tags along with her sisters wherever they go.
Baby Burnell ("At the Bay")
Called “the boy” by his mother. The unnamed son of Stanley and Linda awakens love and affection in his mother’s heart with his knowing smiles and dimpled cheeks.
Pip Trout ("At the Bay")
The eldest of Jonathan Trout’s sons and brother to Rags. Pip likes to collect items that have washed up on shore. His idea of treasure includes everything from old boots to emeralds. A precocious child, Pip leads his cousins and brother in a game of cards and like the bull he pretends to be, Pip charges forward at full speed.
Rags Trout ("At the Bay")
Jonathan Trout’s son and Pip’s younger brother. Rags is an amiable and curious child who keeps starfish in his handkerchief and likes to play at the beach with his brother and cousins.
Mrs. Harry Kember ("At the Bay")
The scorned wife of Mr. Harry Kember. She spends her days sunbathing and smoking and is a sore subject with the women of Crescent Bay. They resent Mrs. Harry Kember for her poor housekeeping, lack of tact, and her shabby clothes. Beryl admires her for her candidness but even she cannot forgive Mrs. Harry Kember’s tendencies to act more like a man than a woman especially in her rough demeanor and foul language. Mrs. Harry Kember tries to persuade Beryl to be more adventurous, romantically and otherwise but when Mr. Harry Kember arrives at Beryl’s window one night it is the memory of Mrs. Harry Kember’s suggestion that prompts Beryl to follow the man into the night.
Mr. Harry Kember ("At the Bay")
A handsome but distant man; he is an object of curiosity at Crescent Bay’s. Mr. Harry Kember is not popular with other men who find him too quiet. Yet he does get on well with women, suggesting that he has extramarital affairs. Kember’s marriage is often a topic of gossip, and the women of Crescent Bay believe he will one day murder his wife. Although charming in his own way, Mr. Harry Kember is not trusted in the community. In the last section of “At the Bay” he appears at Beryl’s window and persuades her to leave the bungalow in the middle of the night. It is uncertain what happens next although sinister implications are implied.
Alice ("At the Bay")
The Burnell’s young maid, who goes to tea with Mrs. Stubbs in an outrageous outfit.
Mrs. Stubbs ("At the Bay")
Owner of a seaside shop that sells beach items. She invites Alice to tea and shows the maid her collection of oversized photographs and a bust of her late husband.
Shepherd ("At the Bay")
Guides his flock of sheep through Crescent Bay in the early morning. An older gentlemen, he smokes a pipe and has a yellow walking stick. He is the owner of Wag, the dog.
Wag ("At the Bay")
A working dog who helps the shepherd lead a flock of sheep through Crescent Bay. Wag does not like Florrie the cat.
Florrie ("At the Bay")
The Burnell’s cat, who greets the dawn and welcomes the night.
Laura Sheridan ("The Garden Party"; "Her First Ball")
Main character of “The Garden Party” and minor character in “Her First Ball” Laura is put in charge of overseeing preparations for the Sheridan’s garden party. She has a playful but sensitive nature and is deeply upset by the death of Mr. Scott. She is confused by her family’s elitism and yet is uncomfortable outside of her social circle especially in the home of the Scotts. She is believed to be a caricature of the author, Katharine Mansfield, during her years as a young socialite.
Meg Sheridan ("The Garden Party"; "Her First Ball")
Possibly the oldest of the three Sheridan sisters, Meg takes Leila under her wing in “Her First Ball” and helps Jose move furniture in “The Garden Party.”
Jose Sheridan ("The Garden Party"; "Her First Ball")
Of the three Sheridan sisters, Jose appears somewhat domineering yet kind. She is an excellent singer and helps her family prepare in “The Garden Party” and accompanies her siblings and cousin Leila in “Her First Ball.”
Laurie Sheridan ("The Garden Party"; "Her First Ball")
The only son of the prominent Sheridan family. Laurie goes to work with his father but is young enough to still attend dances with his sisters. He makes a brief appearance in “Her First Ball.”
Mrs. Sheridan ("The Garden Party")
The elitist, absentminded matriarch of the Sheridan family. She is mother to Laura, Meg, Jose, and Laurie and wife to Mr. Sheridan.
Mr. Sheridan ("The Garden Party")
Mostly absent in “The Garden Party,” Mr. Sheridan goes to work at the beginning of the story and returns in time for the festivities.
Sadie ("The Garden Party")
The Sheridan’s maid.
Han ("The Garden Party")
Cook ("The Garden Party")
The Sheridan's cook. She prepares special sandwiches for the garden party.
Kitty Maitland ("The Garden Party")
Laura Sheridan’s friend.
Mr. Scott ("The Garden Party")
Died in an accident on the day of the Sheridan’s garden party. He left behind a wife and several children.
Mrs. Scott ("The Garden Party")
Wife of Mr. Scott who died in an accident near the Sherian’s home.
Josephine Pinner ("The Daughters of the Late Colonel")
The eldest daughter of Colonel Pinner, sister to Constantia and Benny. The primary duty of taking care of their father falls to the sisters. As the eldest, Josephine bears most of the weight of this burden. After her father’s death Josephine has trouble adjusting to her new life and spends most of her time worrying about what her father would think if he were still alive. Of the two sisters Josephine’s personality is more domineering and practical than Constantia and yet she shares her sister’s vivid imagination and longs for a life she never had.
Constantia Pinner ("The Daughters of the Late Colonel")
Youngest daughter of Colonel Pinner and sister to Josephine and Benny. Constantia has spent most of her life taking care of her father with Josephine. She is slightly absentminded and prefers her dream world to reality; however, she is, at times, braver than her older sister. She feels a longing after her father’s death to find a life of her own but does not want to leave Josephine behind.
Colonel Pinner ("The Daughters of the Late Colonel")
The late father of Josephine, Constantia, and Benny.
Kate ("The Daughters of the Late Colonel")
The Pinner sisters’ disgruntled housekeeper.
Nurse Andrews ("The Daughters of the Late Colonel")
Took care of Colonel Pinner before he passed away. Nurse Andrews was the unwelcome guest of the Pinner sisters after their father’s death.
Mr. Farolles ("The Daughters of the Late Colonel")
A friend of the Pinner family who helped plan the Colonel’s funeral.
Benny Pinner ("The Daughters of the Late Colonel")
Son of Colonel Pinner, brother to Josephine and Constantia. He is married to Hilda and may be the father of Cyril. Benny lives and works on the island of Ceylon and appears to be estranged from his family.
Hilda Pinner ("The Daughters of the Late Colonel")
Cyril ("The Daughters of the Late Colonel")
London businessman and grandson of Colonel Pinner. Cyril is the favorite nephew of Josephine and Constantia. Cyril’s exact relationship to the family is unknown, although it is likely that he is Benny’s son.
Reggie ("Mr. and Mrs. Dove")
The main character of “Mr. and Mrs. Dove”, Reggie is a fruit farmer temporarily staying with his mother in England. He met and fell in love with Anne, a neighbor who laughs at him. He is convinced she will not accept his marriage proposal, but decides to try his luck anyway.
Anne Proctor ("Mr. and Mrs. Dove")
Shallow and prone to inappropriate laughter, Anne admits she has terrible personality flaws and believes Reggie is a better person than she. Anne acknowledges that she has feelings for Reggie but she is not convinced they would make a good couple.
Colonel Proctor ("Mr. and Mrs. Dove")
Anne Proctor’s father.
Mater ("Mr. and Mrs. Dove")
Narrator ("The Young Girl")
Little is known of the narrator of the “The Young Girl” except that he is most likely male and somehow connected to Mrs. Raddick. The reader assumes the narrator is trustworthy because he is put in charge of the Raddick children and observant based on his insight into the behavior of character called “the young girl.”
Mrs. Riddick ("The Young Girl")
The absentminded mother of “the young girl” and Hennie. She leaves them in the care of the narrator while she gambles.
Young Girl ("The Young Girl")
This character is never named in the text. A great beauty, she uses her extraordinarily good looks to shield her fragile inner self from the world.
Hennie ("The Younge Girl")
Mrs. Raddick’s twelve year-old-son who accompanies the narrator and his sister, “the young girl,” to tea.
Mrs. MacEwen ("The Young Girl")
A woman whom Mrs. Raddick befriends at the casino who has just won a large sum of money.
Ma Parker ("Life of Ma Parker")
An aging maid in London who has lived a hard life. Ma Parker lost seven of her thirteen children and her husband among other personal tragedies. In the beginning of “Life of Ma Parker” the reader learns that Ma Parker’s young grandson, Lennie, has also died. His death, unlike the others, is too much for Ma Parker and she relives the worst moments of her life while cleaning the home of her client, “the literary gentleman.”
Gentleman, a.k.a. “the literary gentleman” ("Life of Ma Parker")
He employs Ma Parker to clean his home once a week. The gentleman is an educated man of leisure who refuses to do housework. He occasionally takes an interest in Ma Parker’s life, but there is no deeper connection between them.
Cook ("Life of Ma Parker")
She was cruel to Ma Parker when she first came to London to work for a family as a kitchen maid. The cook kept Ma Parker in the cellar and may have physically and emotionally abused the young maid to the point where she was hospitalized at least twice.
Mr. Parker ("Life of Ma Parker")
A baker. He was married to Ma Parker and fathered thirteen children. He died of consumption, leaving Ma Parker to raise six of their young children alone.
Maudie Parker ("Life of Ma Parker")
Ma Parker’s estranged daughter.
Alice Parker ("Life of Ma Parker")
Ma Parker’s second estranged daughter.
Jim Parker ("Life of Ma Parker")
Ma Parker’s son, who enlisted in the army and went to India.
Ethel Parker ("Life of Ma Parker")
Ma Parker’s daughter, and mother of Lennie. She married young and was widowed.
Lennie ("Life of Ma Parker")
Ma Parker’s beloved grandson, whose tragic death prompts her to question life’s hardships.
William ("Marriage a la Mode")
Husband of Isabel and father to Paddy and Johnny. William is struggling to hold his marriage to Isabel together. He commutes from his office in London to his home in the countryside every Saturday to be with his family. Unfortunately Isabel’s deadbeat friends have taken up residence in the house and William is deeply distressed by the influence they are having on his wife. He loves his Isabel but cannot abide her friends and no longer wishes to come between them.
Isabel ("Marriage a la Mode")
Wife of William and mother of Paddy and Johnny. Isabel has changed in recent years, her priorities shifting from the duties of a homemaker to that of a quasi-philosopher. She spends her days organizing outings with her new friends and enjoying life. She openly resents William’s presence during his weekly visits and makes little effort to repair their damaged relationship.
Paddy ("Marriage a la Mode")
Young son of William and Isabel.
Johnny ("Marraige a la Mode")
Young son of William and Isabel.
Moira Morrison ("Marraige a la Mode")
She met William and Isabel at a house party in London and took it upon herself to reeducate Isabel. Moira, although somewhat subversive, influences the behavior of their group of friends, directing the course of conversation and suggesting outings. She is also a foil to the traditional view of women at the turn of the 20th century. Moira is not bound by the same responsibilities as Isabel who rebels against her role as wife and homemaker while Moira is a woman of leisure.
Bobby Kane ("Marriage a la Mode")
The dandy and comedian in Isabel’s group of friends. Kane offers a foil to William’s straight-laced lawyer persona who prefers order whereas Kane seems to delight in chaos.
Bill Hunt ("Marriage a la Mode")
An artistic idler and friend of Isabel’s. She is possibly a painter.
Dennis Green ("Marriage a la Mode")
An artistic freeloading friend of Isabel’s, whose often dry commentary is mistaken for wit.
Fenella Crane ("The Voyage")
The main character of the “The Voyage,” Fenella recently lost her mother and is now traveling by boat to live with her grandparents in Picton. She is upset that her father is sending her away but is eager for her life to change.
Frank Crane ("The Voyage")
Fenella’s father and recent widower. He feels guilty for sending his daughter away.
Mary Crane, a.k.a. Grandma ("The Voyage")
The determined and kind grandmother of Fenella, who accompanies her by boat to Picton. She is married to Walter and is Frank’s mother.
Walter Crane, a.k.a. Grandpa ("The Voyage")
The husband of Mary, father of Frank, and grandfather of Fenella. He is ill and bedridden.
Stewardess ("The Voyage")
A friendly stewardess aboard the Picton boat.
Mr. Penreddy ("The Voyage")
A kind man who ushers Fenella and her grandma off of the boat and onto a landing station. From there he drives them to Grandma’s house on a horse and cart.
Miss Brill ("Miss Brill")
A lonely woman who spends every Sunday at the public gardens listening to the conversations of others, never taking part herself. She is the main character of the eponymous “Miss Brill,” and the only one of consequence. The other characters are as nameless, as they are interchangeable in the fantasy Miss Brill has created for herself.
Leila ("Her First Ball")
She spent most of her adolescence in the country, and attends her first dance with her cousins, the Sheridans of “The Garden Party.” Young Leila has romanticized the idea of going to a dance so much that the reality is both equally overwhelming and disappointing.
Fat man ("Her First Ball")
An older, overweight dancer, whose negative worldview influences Leila and her fantasies about youth and aging.
Miss Meadows ("The Singing Lesson")
An emotionally distraught singing teacher at an all girls' school. The main character of “The Singing Lesson,” Miss Meadows believes her fiancé, Basil, has ended their relationship and she is unable to separate her personal life from her professional responsibilities and is rude and unkind to her students. When her fortunes reverse, her personality changes to reflect her circumstances.
The Science Mistress ("The Singing Lesson")
Fellow teacher and rival of Miss Meadows.
Mary Beazley ("The Singing Lesson")
Miss Meadow’s favorite pupil, who accompanies her on the piano during lessons.
Miss Wyatt ("The Singing Lesson")
Headmistress and Miss Meadows’ employer.
Mr. John Hammond ("The Stranger")
An anxious middle-aged man of some wealth. Mr. Hammond is the main character of “The Stranger” and appears both possessive and dotingly devoted to his wife. He feels she has never truly been his, and is devastated to learn she has had an affair on a recent voyage.
Mrs. Janey Hammond ("The Stranger")
The object of Mr. Hammond’s affections, Janey had left her husband for a ten-month stay aboard a ship with their eldest daughter. On the way home, she has an affair with a younger man and tells John about it once they are alone together.
Mr. Neave ("An Ideal Family")
An older gentleman who rebels against the idea that he is too old to work and that he should leave his successful business to his unqualified son, Harold. Mr. Neave does not know where the years have gone and hardly recognizes his grown family, having spent so much time building his business. Now in his golden years, Mr. Neave sees his “ideal” family in a new and less flattering light and is tired of keeping up appearances.
Mrs. Charlotte Neave ("An Ideal Family")
Mr. Neave’s wife of many years who is kind and loving, but who remains somewhat aloof and is a mystery to her husband.
Harold Neave ("An Ideal Family")
Mr. Neave’s handsome son, who stands to inherit the family business despite his lack of a work ethic.
Ethel Neave ("An Ideal Family")
One of Mr. Neave’s daughters. She is interested in fashion.
Marion Neave ("An Ideal Family")
One of Mr. Neave’s daughters. Mr. Neave remembers her as a soft-spoken and shy child, and does not recognize the loud and boisterous woman she has become. She chides her father for walking home from the office, and tells her mother to take better care of him.
Lola Neave ("An Ideal Family")
The youngest of Mr. Neave’s daughters. She plays the piano and believes all men should have hobbies. Mr. Neave feels he hardly knows her.
Charles ("An Ideal Family")
Mr. Neave’s loyal butler.
Ellen ("The Lady's Maid")
A talkative maid who recounts her life’s story for a guest of her employer revealing her many regrets for having put the needs of others before her own.
The Lady ("The Lady's Maid")
Ellen’s devout-yet-hypocritical employer.
The Lady's Mother ("An Ideal Family")
Ellen’s first employer, who suffered memory loss before she died of a stroke. She is the mother of Ellen’s current employer.
Grandfather ("An Ideal Family")
Ellen’s grandfather who ran a hairdresser shop, and whose physical abuse led Ellen to run away from home at a young age.
Madam ("The Lady's Maid")
A guest of Ellen’s employer, who listens to the maid’s life story.
Harry ("The Lady's Maid")
Ellen’s former fiancé. He was a flower shop owner.
The Garden Party Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Garden Party is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Laura feels empathy for people like the Scott family. She wants to help them and do the right thing by cancelling her party. The rest of the family is more self-absorbed and do not like to sacrifice for others.
This collection of stories epitomizes Mansfield's insight into the world's simple things.... the small details we don't generally pay attention to. Opinion is divided as to whether the stories are too open ended or more purposeful in the way they...