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Margaret Allan


Margaret Allan Scott’s † Biography

Last Updated:
11/03/2021, 2:34 pm
Writer and Editor
Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship 1971
As one of the few people able to decipher Katherine Mansfield’s famously illegible handwriting, Scott dedicated her career to her transcription of Mansfield’s autobiographical material; namely, her journal and letters – and in doing so, brought her alive.

Margaret Allan Scott was a lauded writer, editor and librarian. Born in Te Aroha and raised in Christchurch, she discovered an early interest in Katherine Mansfield at high school through a teacher who read the class Mansfield’s short story The Doll’s House.

After her husband was killed in a climbing accident in 1960, Scott moved to Wellington to train as librarian. Her first appointment was in the newly created role of Manuscript Librarian at the Alexander Turnbull Library in 1967. In the memoir she later penned titled Recollecting Mansfield, Scott described her role as an extraordinary gift, noting “to discover that I now had responsibility for the care of masses of Mansfield manuscripts, many of which were nearly illegible and some of which had never been read since they were written, took my breath away".

As luck would have it, Scott was one of the few people able to read Mansfield's famously illegible writing. Her friend and fellow writer Eric McCormick put her in touch with Dan Devin, Academic Editor at Oxford University Press, and from there – along with writer (and fellow Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellow) Vincent O’Sullivan – she embarked on a project to transcribe and edit Mansfield's letters and journals. The project ended up spanning over two decades, resulting in the publication of a five-volume edition of The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield. Later, she published The Katherine Mansfield Notebooks in two volumes with Lincoln University Press in 1997, and subsequently in a single complete edition by the University of Minnesota Press in 2002.

Scott was the second ever recipient of the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship, and in 1989 she received the New Zealand National Library Research Fellowship, to transcribe, annotate and Katherine Mansfield's notebooks.

Margaret Scott died 4 December 2014