Monday, December 26, 2011

Short stories: Margaret Drabble and Katherine Mansfield

In our special Christmas short story series, we're parcelling up two of our most popular short stories each day – one to read and one to listen to. Today …

• Listen to Margaret Drabble reading the first short story she ever read - Katherine Mansfield's The Doll's House

• Read Drabble's short story Trespassing
Katherine Mansfield and Margaret Drabble
Katherine Mansfield and Margaret Drabble Photograph: Hulton/Murdo Macleod
Margaret Drabble reads Katherine Mansfield's 1922 story The Doll's House - the first adult short story she ever read - in which the gift of the perfect dolls' house to the children of a wealthy family shows up the deep social divisions in their village community.

Listen to The Doll's House by Katherine Mansfield  - Link to this audio

Read Trespassing – a short story by Margaret Drabble, specially commissioned for our Autumn books season, a compulsion to explore forbidden territory leads a woman to a nuclear power station
Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Stations Photograph: Alamy

When she was a child, she kept on her bedroom mantelpiece a little oblong blue-grey leaden plate saying: "danger of death". It portrayed a rudimentary skull-shape and a symbolic zig-zag bolt of electricity and displayed these three plain words of warning. She found it in the gutter on the corner by the sweet shop in her home town of Leeds, and she was very fond of it. Her mother tolerated it, and it survived many a half-hearted spring clean and attempted clearance. Eight years later she added to it another sign which she found lying under the lichen-entrusted stone wall of a French cemetery in the Auvergne, declaring: "danger de mort". She thought of building up a collection of similar items, but she didn't. She didn't persist. And when her parents sold the house and moved to a cottage in Wharfedale, her childhood bedroom was dismantled and the danger signs, along with other more easily valued treasures, disappeared during the removal.
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