Women in the Literary Market 1800-1900


Michael Field
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[Katharine Bradley, 1846-1914]
[Edith Cooper, 1862-1913]

"Michael Field" was the pen name of two women who collaboratively published poetry and verse dramas. Katharine Bradley and her sixteen-year-old niece, Edith Cooper, formed an emotional and artistic bond that produced twenty-eight plays and eight volumes of poetry. They lived together from the late 1870s until the end of their lives.

Reviewers praised the publications of Michael Field until they discovered that the supposed male author was, in fact, two women. Bradley believed that their sex hindered their literary and critical success.

Long Ago, considered by many to be their best book of poetry, is a series of lyrics extrapolated from fragments of Sappho’s poetry and spoken in Sappho’s voice.

Critics disagree on whether Bradley and Cooper were an unusually close aunt and niece, intimate friends, or lesbian lovers. However, most scholars agree that for them poetry was both an act of rebellion and a vow of mutual devotion.

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Michael Field [pseudonym]. Long Ago. London: G. Bell, 1889
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continue to Getting into Print

early role models
entering the literary market
learned poets
getting into print
charlotte bronte and george eliot
sin and sensation
new women
L.T. Meade
the three volume format
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