elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
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elisa_rolle

Edith Emma Cooper & Katherine Harris Bradley

Michael Field was a pseudonym used for the poetry and verse drama of Katherine Harris Bradley (27 October 1846 – 26 September 1914) and her niece and ward Edith Emma Cooper (12 January 1862 – 13 December 1913). As Field they wrote around 40 works together, and a long journal Works and Days. Their intention was to keep the pen-name secret, but it became public knowledge, not long after they had confided in their friend Robert Browning.

Katherine Bradley was born on 27 October 1846 in Birmingham, England, the daughter of Charles Bradley, a tobacco manufacturer, and of Emma (née Harris). Her grandfather, also Charles Bradley (1785–1845), was a prominent follower and financial backer of prophetess Joanna Southcott and her self-styled successor John "Zion" Ward. She was educated at the Collège de France and Newnham College, Cambridge.

Bradley's elder sister, Emma, married James Robert Cooper in 1860, and went to live in Kenilworth, where their daughter, Edith Emma Cooper was born on 12 January 1862. Emma Cooper became an invalid for life after the birth of her second daughter, Amy, and Katherine Bradley, being her sister, stepped in to become the legal guardian of her niece Edith Cooper.

Bradley was for a time involved with Ruskin's utopian project. She published first under the pseudonym Arran Leigh, a nod to Elizabeth Barrett. Edith adopted the name Isla Leigh.


Michael Field was a pseudonym used for the poetry and verse drama of Katherine Harris Bradley (27 October 1846 - 26 September 1914) and her niece and ward Edith Emma Cooper (12 January 1862 - 13 December 1913). From the late 1870s, when Edith was at University College, Bristol, they agreed to live together and were, over the next 40 years, lesbian lovers, and co-authors. They had financial independence: Bradley's father Charles Bradley had been in the tobacco industry in Birmingham.



From the late 1870s, when Edith was at University College, Bristol, they agreed to live together and were, over the next 40 years, lesbian lovers, and co-authors. The first joint publication as Michael Field was in 1884. They had financial independence: Bradley's father Charles Bradley had been in the tobacco industry in Birmingham.

They were Aestheticists, strongly influenced by the thought of Walter Pater. They developed a large circle of literary friends and contacts; in particular painters and life partners Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, near whom they settled in Richmond, London. Robert Browning was also a close friend of theirs, and they knew and admired Oscar Wilde, whose death they bitterly mourned. While they were always well connected, the early critical success was not sustained ( this is often attributed to the joint identity of Field becoming known). They knew many of the aesthetic movement of the 1890s, including Walter Pater, Vernon Lee, J. A. Symonds and also Bernard Berenson. William Rothenstein was a friend.

They wrote a number of passionate love poems to each other, and their name Michael Field was their way of declaring their inseparable oneness. Friends referred to them as the Fields, the Michaels or the Michael Fields. They had a range of pet names for each other. They also were passionately devoted to their pets, in particular a dog named Whym Chow, for whom they wrote a book of poems named after him. This continued a tradition of lesbian couples forming families that included beloved animals - the Ladies of Llangollen had established a similar household.

Their joint journal starts with an account of Bradley's passion for Alfred Gérente, an artist in stained glass and brother of Henri Gérente, who was of an English background but worked mostly in France. It goes on to document Michael Field as a figure, amongst 'his' literary counterparts, and a pet dog. When the latter died in 1906, the emotional pattern of the relationship was disturbed; both women became Roman Catholic converts in 1907. Their religious inclinations are reflected in their later works, where their earlier writing is influenced by classical and Renaissance culture, in its pagan aspects particularly, Sappho as understood by the late Victorians, and perhaps Walter Savage Landor.

Edith died of cancer in 1913, as did Katherine less than a year later. A much-edited selection from the journals, which were two dozen annual volumes in ledgers with aspects of scrapbooks combined with a self-conscious literary style of composition, was prepared by T. Sturge Moore, a friend through his mother Marie.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine_Harris_Bradley

Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=elimyrevandra-20
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=elimyrevandra-20

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher

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Tags: author: edith emma cooper, author: katherine harris bradley, author: michael field, days of love
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