Giving Nineteenth Century Women Writers a Voice and a Face — Michael Field [Katherine Harris Bradley (1846–1914) and Edith Emma Cooper (1862–1913)]

Michael Field was the pen name used by Katherine Harris Bradley and her niece Edith Emma Cooper, who wrote together under the same pseudonym. Katherine Bradley became the legal guardian of her sister’s daughter, Edith Cooper, and the two eventually became lovers. Katherine published several works under the pseudonym Arran Leigh, and Edith published under Isla Leigh, before they eventually co-authored works of poetry and verse drama under the name Michael Field. The women were friends of Robert Browning (whom they called the “Old Gentleman”) and his sister, Sarianna.

Michael Field. The Father’s Tragedy. William Rufus. Loyalty or Love? London: George Bell, 1885.

This volume, inscribed “R. Browning Esq./ with sincere regards./ Michael Field./ June 8th 1885,” is a presentation copy and contains a note in Robert Browning’s hand and numerous penciled corrections to the text, presumably by the elder poet.

The ABL has thirty-two books written by Michael Field and published during the authors’ lifetimes, several being first editions or containing inscriptions. The Father’s Tragedy. William Rufus. Loyalty or Love? ([1885]), Long Ago (1889), Underneath the Bough: A Book of Verses (1893), and Attila, my Attila! A Play (1895) were part of the Brownings’ library. Sight and Song (1892) is the same edition as a volume of that work that was owned by Sarianna Browning.

Melinda Creech

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