Katherine Mansfield penned The Doll's House in 1922 whilst suffering desperately from an advanced case of tuberculosis. It first appeared i the publication The Nation and Athenium periodical, and one year later was the title story in a collection of Mansfield's short stories, entitled The Doll's House and Other Stories.
Like other works by Mansfield it was written in a Modernist style, with a somewhat haphazard style of narrative that leaped from one subject to the next in a seemingly unconnected way.
The story tells of the Burnell sisters who receive a beautiful dollhouse as a gift from a friend of their parents. They are forbidden to show the dollhouse to the Kelvey sisters, because they are poor, but one day, when she is bored, Kezia Burnell invites the Kelveys inside to see the dollhouse.
The story's main theme is that of social class and standing, and the virtual impossibility of moving from one class into a higher one; it is equally impossible for the children of working class parents to move into a higher class even if they work hard, get a good education or come into money. This kind of disenfranchisement had long been a preoccupation of Mansfield; born in New Zealand she had become disillusioned with the country's practice of making the indigenous Maori people into outcasts in their own country.
After leaving New Zealand, Mansfield studied at Queens College in London and after graduation became part of the literary set, known as much for her relationships with both men and women as she was for her Bohemian lifestyle or her writing. Mansfield died young in her nineteen thirties, as a result of tuberculosis that she tried hard to treat with newfangled treatments, to no avail. Much of her work was unpublished at the time of her death but was published in compendium form shortly afterwards. Mansfield is considered to be one of the leading writers of the early twentieth century.