Partner Katherine Mansfield, Helen Harvey
57 Welbeck St, Marylebone, London W1G 9HL, UK
Castle Hill, Woodgreen, Fordingbridge SP6 2AX, UK
Ida Constance Baker (January 19, 1888 – July 4, 1978) was the companion of Katherine Mansfield.
Ida Constance Baker was born in Stuston, Suffolk, the daughter of Colonel Oswald Baker. When she was still a baby the family went to Burma, not returning until she was seven. They then settled in Welbeck Street, London, and Ida and her sister entered Queen's College School (the junior part of Queen's College) as day girls. They moved to Queen's College itself in 1901. Ida's mother died early in 1903 so she became a boarder at the college like Katherine Mansfield (nine months her junior) and her sisters who entered the college during the same year. The two girls met immediately and, some months later, Mansfield, rather oddly, proposed friendship. When Ida was studying to become a professional violinist she wanted to take her mother's name, Katherine Moore. But Mansfield wanted 'Katherine' for herself and proposed she take her brother's name, Lesley. Thus 'Lesley Moore', so often shortened to `L.M.', was born.
From the time they met until Mansfield’s death 20 years later, Ida Baker is far and away the most important woman in Mansfield's life. Servant, companion, friend, confidante, wife, she selflessly played whatever role Mansfield wanted her to. During those 20 years there were only three periods of time when she was not either living with her or available at her beck and call: when Mansfield returned to New Zealand, October 1906 to August 1908; when Ida was in Rhodesia for a few months in 1911, her father and brother having settled there the year before and when she was again in Rhodesia, travelling there in late March 1914 and returning in the autumn of 1916.
Ida experienced the totality of Mansfield's emotional range during those 20 years, from deep venomous hatred to utter dependence on her. After Mansfield entered Gurdjieff's Institute (Ida's contemporary diary fixes the exact date) she took a job on a farm at Lisieux, near Caen. All too soon she was called to attend Mansfield's funeral. After Mansfield's death Murry employed Ida to type her manuscripts for £10 a month, a good choice as she was used to Mansfield's execrable handwriting.
Ida worked as a housekeeper for Elizabeth Beauchamp Russell, Mansfield’s cousin, in her London home and at a bungalow in Woodgreen, a village in the New Forest. There in 1942, with a woman friend she had made, Helen Harvey, she moved into a small cottage. Her companion died the following year but she stayed on and in 1971 finally published Katherine Mansfield, the Memories of LM, with a linking commentary by Georgina Joysmith and a foreword by the pioneering American Mansfield scholar, Sylvia Berkman. This book she intended as a vindication of Mansfield who had been, as she saw it, done down, sold short by a wide circle of people both in her life and after her death in memoirs, reminiscences and biographies. She thought Mansfield's father mean towards her and could not forgive Murry for publishing so much of her writing posthumously when Mansfield had expressly ordered the opposite. She also thought that Antony Alpers had got things wrong in his first biography of Mansfield (1953) despite her assisting him in preparing it. Of Mansfield’s friends only Koteliansky comes out well in her book.
My published books:
BACK TO HOME PAGE