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We Are Michael Field

Overview

In 1884 The Spectator hailed 'a new voice, which is likely to be heard far and wide among the English-speaking peoples': Michael Field. But the reviewer had no idea that Michael Field was the joint pseudonym of Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper, two poets, playwrights and diarists who found freedom behind a male mask. They were aunt and niece, but also lovers, sharing a 'bone-of-bone, flesh-of-flesh life' for more than half a century. The uncensored story of the extraordinary women who were Michael Field, based ...
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We are Michael Field

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Overview

In 1884 The Spectator hailed 'a new voice, which is likely to be heard far and wide among the English-speaking peoples': Michael Field. But the reviewer had no idea that Michael Field was the joint pseudonym of Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper, two poets, playwrights and diarists who found freedom behind a male mask. They were aunt and niece, but also lovers, sharing a 'bone-of-bone, flesh-of-flesh life' for more than half a century. The uncensored story of the extraordinary women who were Michael Field, based on their unpublished diaries, is told here for the first time.

Biography of the aunt and niece who wrote together under the pseudonym of Michael Field.

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Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Millard
Rich in wit, honesty and passion.... Although Michael Field's books may be almost forgotten, The Michaels live on in this impressive work.
ForeWord Magazine
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Author of some 30 plays and 11 books of poetry, Michael Field was a prolific if relatively minor late-Victorian literary figure. Field's first verse play, Callirrhoe and Fair Rosamund, was published to wide acclaim in 1884; what early reviewers didn't know was that "Michael Field" was actually two women, Katherine Bradley and her sister's daughter, Edith Cooper, who were not only literary collaborators but also lovers. Donoghue's (Kissing the Witch) brief but absorbing biography is based on the detailed journals in which Bradley and Cooper recorded their life together for nearly half a century. Describing her subjects as "hardworking, witty, generous in love and friendship" but also "bitchy, snobbish and monstrously egotistical," Donoghue finds Bradley and Cooper "superbly contradictory" in the way that so many late-Victorian literary figures are. Indeed, as lesbians who wrote blatantly erotic love poetry and celebrated "art for art's sake" but who also clung to many of the pieties of their haute-bourgeois upbringing, they emerge here as embodiments of the complex fin de siecle literary zeitgeist. Donoghue suggests that their work deserves more attention than it has received. That's a debatable point, but given their literary friendships with such notables as Robert Browning, John Ruskin and Oscar Wilde; their struggles to maintain their literary reputation as Michael Field's true identity gradually became known; and their constant straddling of the lines between respectability and transgression, Bradley and Cooper were undeniably a remarkable pair. (Feb.)
Library Journal
These short biographies belong to the "Outlines" series, which serves to introduce the lives and works of significant gay and lesbian writers, artists, singers, dancers, composers, and actors. Although compact, they are quite dense, and each includes a bibliography and a list of recommended readings. Donoghue Passions Between Women: British Lesbian Culture, 1668-1801, HarperCollins, 1996 uses nearly 30 volumes of letters and journals to tell the story of the two Englishwomen who shared the pseudonym Michael Field: Katherine Bradley 1846-1914 and Edith Cooper 1862-1913. Donoghue sheds light on the obscure careers of these women, who collaborated to write 30 plays and 11 volumes of poetry. More than co-writers, the two women were aunt and niece as well as lovers. Donoghue provides an engaging, informal overview of their history, including family origins, their decision to use a male pseudonym, their rise to fame, their intimate relationship, and their colorful circle of friends. French scholar Ivry he translated Todd Olivier's Albert Camus, LJ 11/15/97 has the Herculean task of condensing the life story of the poet Arthur Rimbaud 1854-91 into a handful of chapters, which he does admirably well. Rimbaud, considered one of France's greatest modern poets, created complex poems that used language in ways that had never been attempted in poetry. Ivry covers the evidence of Rimbaud's early genius as a schoolboy, his fateful meeting with the poet Paul Verlaine and their tempestuous love affair, the aftermath of their breakup, Rimbaud's phenomenal prowess as a poet he reached the zenith of his career at 20, his travels, and his continuing influence on artists today. For more in-depth biographical information on Michael Field and Arthur Rimbaud, consult Mary C. Sturgeon's Michael Field 1922; Ayer, 1975. reprint and Enid Starkie's Arthur Rimbaud Norton, 1968. reprint. Recommended for larger collections of gay and lesbian materials.--Kimberly L. Clarke, Univ. of Minnesota Lib. Minneapolis
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781899791668
  • Publisher: Absolute Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1998
  • Series: Outlines Series
  • Pages: 152
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 7.23 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Emma Donoghue
Emma Donoghue
Award-winning Irish writer Emma Donoghue, Publishers Weekly writes, "Has an extraordinary talent for turning exhaustive research into plausible characters and narratives; she presents a vibrant world seething with repressed feeling and class tensions." Her latest novel, Life Mask, delves into the fashion-obsessed world of 18th-century London.

Biography

Emma Donoghue is an award-winning Irish writer who lives in Canada. At 34, she has published six books of fiction, two works of literary history, two anthologies, and two plays.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, on 24 October 1969, Emma is the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue. She attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990 she earned a first-class honours B.A. in English and French from University College Dublin, and in 1997 a Ph.D. (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of Cambridge. Since the age of 23, Donoghue has earned her living as a full-time writer. After years of commuting between England, Ireland, and Canada, in 1998 she settled in London, Ontario, where she lives with her lover and their son.

Biography courtesy of the author's official web site.

Good To Know

Some outtakes from our interview with Donoghue

"The youngest of eight children, I would never have been conceived if a papal bull hadn't guilt-tripped my poor mother into flushing her pills down the toilet.

"The nearest I've ever got to 'honest toil' was a chambermaiding job in Wildwood, New Jersey, at the age of 18. I got fired for my 'low bathroom standards.' "

"My lover and I have a one-year-old son called Finn, whose favorite thing is to rip books out of my hands and eat them.

"I am clumsy, a late and nervous driver, and despise all sports except a little gentle dancing or yoga.

"I have never been depressed or thrown a plate, which I attribute to the cathartic effects of writing books about people whose lives are more grueling than mine.

"I am completely unobservant and couldn't tell you how many windows there are in our living room.

"I would be miserable in beige; I mostly wear red, purple, and black.

"The way to my heart is through Belgian milk chocolate.

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    1. Hometown:
      London, England and Ontario, Canada
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 24, 1969
    2. Place of Birth:
      Dublin, Ireland
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English and French, University College Dublin, 1990; Ph.D. in English, University of Cambridge, 1998
    2. Website:

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