[BRADLEY, Katharine, & Edith Cooper.] FIELD, Michael.

Wild Honey.

From Various Thyme.

London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1908 Stock Code: 132014
£500.00

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Notes

First edition of this collaborative collection of poetry by Edith Emma Cooper and her aunt and sometime lover Katharine Harris Bradley, pseudonymously-published as Michael Field. This work "gathered together a vast wealth of poetry spanning a considerable time period" and "represents a poetic narrative on a grand scale, charting as it does a period to which the turn of the century was central, but also a period of life changing personal events" including their conversion from paganism to Catholicism in 1907 (Thain and Vadillo, p. 139). The work is "suspended around the dichotomies that structured this period of the women's lives: both pagan and Catholic and heteroerotic and homoerotic desire" (ibid., p. 139). Cooper initiated the move, and Bradley (18461914) devotedly followed, taking the poet Father John Gray as her confessor. The conversion put a definitive end to their earlier sexual relationship which had diminished since Oscar Wilde's trial and the subsequent outpouring of cultural homophobia in 1895. Their first publication as "Michael Field", Callirhoë (1884), was publicly well-received, with The Spectator greeting it "as a work of 'great promise', exhibiting 'the true poetic and dramatic fire'" and later asking, "will the pseudonym of 'Michael Field' become greater even than that of 'George Eliot'?" (Blain, p. 247). Although contemporary admirers of their work included writers such as Robert Browning, George Meredith and Algernon Charles Swinburne, until very recently their work was not widely critically studied. This copy has a contemporary gift inscription to the first blank, "To Pearl on her birthday, with love from Cecil. March 29th/08" with a verse entitled "A Triolet" written out in manuscript below. Many key romantic passages have been underlined, such as "Precious against a precious thing- / A Pearl within her shell", in reference to the recipient's name (p. 165).

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Description

Octavo. Original green cloth, titles to spine in gilt, floral bee and honeycomb design by Charles Ricketts in gilt to spine and front cover, top edge gilt, others untrimmed.

Illustrations

Title page printed in red and black.

Condition

Spine faded, a couple small spots to spine and onto rear cover, slight bumps and touch of wear to tips, front inner hinge a little fragile; a very good copy indeed.

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