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We Are Michael Field

We Are Michael Field by Emma Donoghue 

We Are Michael Field(Bath: Absolute Press and New York: Stuart, Tabori and Chang, 1998). The first biography since the 1920s of the Victorian collaborative writers and lovers (as well as aunt and niece), Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper, who wrote under the name Michael Field.  This book – my only excursion into biography - is based on twenty-five years of unpublished diaries as well as their complete work in poetry and drama. 

A personal note: Absolute Press commissioned this study, giving me the choice of any queer artist as the subject, so I picked the remarkable duo who wrote as Michael Field.  Since there was no biography of them that drew on the vast corpus of their diaries as well as their complete work, this meant that I had to do the kind of exhaustive archival digging for this mini-biography that would be required for a full-length one - but the ladies were such good company that I didn’t mind.  All that bothered me, apart from puzzling out the two varieties of handwriting, was how cold the British Library kept their Manuscript Reading Room.  The Michaels linger in the back of my mind to this day, and although I feel sure they would have disliked me personally, I hope they would have approved of my following their policy of writing about any subject, place and century that takes my fancy. 

‘This short biography is both an education and a joy.' – Out Magazine

‘Reads like one of the better Merchant-Ivory screenplays: a comedy of manners, obsession and art, with twin heroines heroic one moment and foolish the next, plus a supporting cast that includes John Ruskin, Bernhard Berenson and Oscar Wilde.' – Advocate

Bibliography

Ed Madden, 'Poets and Lovers Ever More,' Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, Winter 2000

K. L. Thomas, ‘We Are Michael Field’, Victorian Studies, Winter 1999-200 (42:2), 312-14

Terry Wolverton, 'A World of Women,' Lambda Book Report, September 1999

Barbara Grier, 'Inseparable, Incestuous and Intense,' Lambda Book Report, September 1999