Newly uncovered works by Katherine Mansfield, one based on a rather erotic play she saw, will cast new light on the life and works of one of New Zealand's most famous authors, says the academic who discovered them.
Mansfield scholar Gerri Kimber, reading through papers the country's Alexander Turnbull Library bought from the estate of Mansfield's husband, John Middleton Murry, has identified a number of unknown works, including one complete vignette.
On Wednesday, Dr Kimber told a press conference looking at the papers was "like looking at gold".
The discovery of the hugely significant material would offer Mansfield scholars years of opportunity to reassess her life and work, she said.
The new vignette is called Sumurun: An Impression of Leopoldine Konstantin, and shows Mansfield must have been to see Max Reinhardt's erotic silent play Sumurun, based on a story from the Arabian Nights, which played to packed houses in London in 1911.
It "resonates with a young Katherine Mansfield learning her craft", Dr Kimber said.
"We know almost nothing about Mansfield at this time, so even to know biographically that she went to see Sumurun is more than we knew before.
"These are KM's hashish smoking, bisexual, drug-taking dark days, nearly all signs of which she obliterated. There are dark images and even darker themes in the piece itself, which is probably why Murry never published it.
"He posthumously published virtually every bus ticket that she ever used, but he didn't publish this."
The other new works include nine poems, incomplete fragments of stories, confirmation of a previously doubtfully attributed parody and over a dozen new notebook entries.
Chief librarian Chris Szekely said the library paid $NZ287,000 ($A236,175) for the papers, and it was definitely worth it.
The new Mansfield material is available now for researchers at the library, but copyright issues mean it cannot be reproduced immediately.
However, it will go into volume three of a collected works of non-fiction and poetry, to be published next year.