Michael Field: The Poet
  • Publication Date: July 8, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551116754 / 1551116758
  • 384 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Michael Field: The Poet

  • Publication Date: July 8, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551116754 / 1551116758
  • 384 pages; 5½" x 8½"

“Michael Field” was the literary pseudonym of two women, Katharine Bradley (1846-1914) and her niece Edith Cooper (1862-1913). The women were poets, playwrights, diarist, and lovers who lived and wrote together during the final decades of the nineteenth century up to World War I. Their arresting poetry has recently gained them a place in the canon, and their extensive engagement with other writers puts them at the centre of fin de siècle literary culture.

This Broadview Edition offers selections from all published books of poetry by Michael Field, and a substantial section of transcriptions from largely unpublished manuscript letters and diaries that gives insight into the extraordinary life and work of the authors. A critical introduction, bibliography, and selection of contemporary reviews are also included.


“This selection from the extensive oeuvre of the two women, aunt and niece, who called themselves ‘Michael Field,’ is a revelation. The editors have given us the most generous selection of the poems to date. The cold fire of Michael Field’s lyricism, its compact, enigmatic language, is fully contextualized in the poet’s debt to Nietzsche, to late century aestheticism, Hellenism, and feminism. The joint diary and the letters of this astonishing poet, with their intellectual astringency, wit, and frankly sensuous homoeroticism, and their acquaintance with major figures of aesthetic culture Pater, Vernon Lee, Browning, and the Berensons enable us to read the late nineteenth-century’s modernism in a wholly new way.” — Isobel Armstrong, Birkbeck College, University of London

“The two women who loved and wrote as ‘Michael Field’ feature in recent histories of Victorian sexuality, but this collection convincingly demonstrates their importance in the history of British poetry. A balanced and informative introduction and generous selections highlight the breadth of elements their lyrics synthesized—ancient Greek and Persian, Elizabethan, German, French, Roman Catholic, and even painterly. Extracts from Bradley and Cooper’s journals and correspondence place them amidst aesthetes and critics from Ruskin and Wilde to Berenson, although contemporary reviews show them denied proper recognition. This anthology surveys a unique literary partnership that both reflected and influenced the main artistic currents of turn-of-the-century Britain.” — Margaret Stetz, University of Delaware

“Perhaps the most important of the year’s publications, in terms of its effect on the future direction of Victorian poetry studies, was Michael Field, the Poet: Published and Manuscript Materials, edited by Ana Parejo Vadillo and Marion Thain. Bringing together a wide range of writings by the two women who worked under the name ‘Michael Field’, this single-volume edition is a product of the growing scholarly interest in this important fin-de-siècle writer, and it will surely be a spur to further work on the poet.” — review in The Nineteenth Century: The Victorian Period

List of Illustrations
Michael Field: A Brief Chronology
Michael Field’s Circle: A Key to Names


1. From Long Ago (1889)

  • [Epigraph]
    I. “They plaited garlands in their time”
    II. “Come, dark-eyed Sleep, thou child of Night”
    III. “Oh, not the honey, nor the bee!”
    VI. “Erinna, thou art ever fair”
    XI. “Dreamless from happy sleep I woke”
    XIV. “Atthis, my darling, thou did’st stray”
    XVI. “Delicate Graces, come”
    XVII. “The moon rose full: the women stood”
    XX. “I sang to women gathered round”
    XXI. “Ye rosy-armed, pure Graces, come”
    XXV. “Ah for Adonis! So”
    XXVIII. “Love, fatal creature, bitter-sweet”
    XXX. “Thine elder that I am, thou must not cling”
    XXXIII. “Maids, not to you my mind doth change”
    XXXIV. “‘Sing to us, Sappho!’ cried the crowd”
    XXXV. “Come, Gorgo, put the rug in place”
    XXXVI. “Yea, gold is son of Zeus: no rust”
    XLIV. “Nought to me! So I choose to say”
    LII. “Climbing the hill a coil of snakes”
    LVII. “My shell is mute; Apollo doth refuse”
    LXI. “There is laughter soft and free”
    LXIII. “Grow vocal to me, O my shell divine!”
    LXV. “Prometheus fashioned man”
    LXVIII. “Thou burnest us; thy torches’ flashing spires”
    “O free me, for I take the leap”

2. From Sight and Song (1892)

  • [Epigraph]
    Venus, Mercury and Cupid, Correggio
    La Gioconda, Leonardo da Vinci
    The Faun’s Punishment, Correggio
    The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli
    Spring, Sandro Botticelli
    A Portrait, Bartolommeo Veneto
    Saint Sebastian, Correggio
    Venus and Mars, Sandro Botticelli
    A Fête Champêtre, Antoine Watteau
    Saint Sebastian, Antonello da Messina
    A Pen-Drawing of Leda, Sodoma
    Marriage of Bacchus and Ariadne, Tintoretto
    The Sleeping Venus, Giorgione
    L’Embarquement Pour Cythère, Antoine Watteau

3. From Underneath the Bough (1893)

  • [Epigraph]

The First Book of Songs

  • “Mortal, if thou art beloved”
    “Death, men say, is like a sea”
    “Ah, Eros doth not always smite”
    “Men, looking on the Wandering Jew”
    “Love’s wings are wondrous swift”
    An Apple-Flower
    “Through hazels and apples”
    “Say, if a gallant rose my bower doth scale”
    “Ah me, if I grew sweet to man”

The Second Book of Songs

  • “Others may drag at memory’s fetter”
    “Little Lettuce is dead, they say”
    A Death-Bed
    “A curling thread”
    “She mingled me rue and roses”
    “When the cherries are on the bough”
    “Thanatos, thy praise I sing”

The Third Book of Songs

  • “Already to mine eyelids’ shore”
    “A girl”
    “Methinks my love to thee doth grow”
    “If I but dream that thou art gone”
    Love’s Sour Leisure
    “I sing thee with the stock-dove’s throat”
    “A gray mob-cap and a girl’s”
    “It was deep April, and the morn”
    An Invitation

The Fourth Book of Songs

  • “Across a gaudy room”
    “As two fair vessels side by side”
    “The lady I have vowed to paint”
    “The iris was yellow, the moon was pale”
    “I lay sick in a foreign land”
    “The roses wither and die”
    “There are tears in my heart”
    “On, o Bacchus, on we go”
    “I would not be a fugitive”
    “Sunshine is calling”

4. From Wild Honey from Various Thyme (1908)

  • [Epigraph]
    Pan Asleep
    “The woods are still that were so gay at primrosespringing”
    What Is Thy Belovéd More Than Another Belovéd?
    Love: A Lover
    A Violet Bank
    From Baudelaire
    Fifty Quatrains
    The Poet
    A Forest Night
    “I love you with my life—’tis so I love you”
    A Vision
    IV:The Mummy Invokes His Soul
    Ebbtide at Sundown
    Life Plastic
    Old Ivories
    A Palimpsest
    Whym Chow
    A Minute-Hand
    Good Friday

5. From Poems of Adoration (1912)

  • Of Silence
    Real Presence
    Another Leadeth Thee
    A Dance Of Death
    Imple Superna Gratia
    After Anointing

6. From Mystic Trees (1913)

  • The Captain Jewel
    The Winding-Sheet
    The Five Sacred Wounds
    White Passion-Flower
    Before Requiem
    The Rosary of Blood
    Dread St. Michael
    She is Singing to Thee, Domine!
    Caput Tuum ut Carmelus

7. From Whym Chow: Flame of Love (1914)

  • [Epigraph]
    IV. “O Dionysus, at thy feet”
    VI. “What is the other name of Love?”
    VIII. Out of the East
    IX. “My loved One is away from me”
    XXII. “Sleeping together: Sleep”
    XXIX. “O Chow, the Peace of her I love above”

8. From Dedicated: an Early Work by Michael Field (1914)

  • Dionysus Zagreus
    The Genethliacs of Wine
    De Profundis
    Sylvanus Cupressifer
    Caenis Caeneus
    The Mask

9. From The Wattlefold: Unpublished Poems by Michael Field (1930)

  • Blessed Hands
    My Birthday
    How Letters Became Prayers
    How Prayers Became Letters Again
    “Lo, my loved is dying”
    They Shall Look on Him
    “I am thy charge, thy care!”
    A Cradle Song
    “What shall I do for Thee to-day?”


1. Diaries

  • From Works and Days: The Diaries of Michael Field, 1888–1914

2. Letters

  1. Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper to Each Other and to Family (1885)
  2. From John Ruskin (1877)
  3. To and From Robert Browning (1884–85)
  4. To John Miller Gray (1893)
  5. To and From Bernard Berenson (1891–?1912)
  6. To Mary Costelloe, later Mary Berenson (1892–?1912)
  7. To and From Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon (1895–1907)
  8. To and From John Gray (1907–?1912)
  9. Other Interlocutors (1884–90)


  1. Review of Long Ago by John M. Gray, The Academy (8 June 1889).
  2. Review of Sight and Song by W.B.Yeats, The Bookman (July 1892).
  3. “Women and Men:Women Laureates,” by T.W.H. [T.W. Higginson], Harper’s Bazar (17 June 1893).
  4. Review of Underneath the Bough [Anon], The Athenaeum (9 September 1893).
  5. Review of Wild Honey [Anon], The Academy (8 February 1908).

Appendix: Index to Names of Major Artists and Literary Figures Appearing in the Life-Writing Section
Bibliography of Bradley and Cooper’s Major Published Volumes
Select Bibliography of Critical and Related Work

Marion Thain is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Birmingham, UK.

Ana Parejo Vadillo is Lecturer in English at Birkbeck College, University of London.