• Dijana D. Tica University of Banja Luka Faculty of Philology English Department



canon, women poets, queer, gender roles, Aestheticism, Decadence, Catholicism.


Although they wrote more than thirty plays, nine volumes of poetry, around thirty volumes of diaries, and thousands of letters, Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper, an aunt-niece duo, incestuous lovers and poets, more famous under their joint male pseudonym Michael Field, were almost unknown to a wider literary audience until the 1970s, when these two ‘minor’ Victorian women poets were rediscovered mostly by feminist critics. What first drew critics’ attention to this poetic pair was their dual authorial persona and the nature of their relationship, culminating in Lilian Faderman’s groundbreaking book Surpassing the Love of Men (1981). In the 1990s, critics such as Isobel Armstrong, Virginia Blain, Joseph Bristow, Holly Laird, Angela Leighton, Yopie Prins, Martha Vicinus, and Chris White shifted focus to their work, first to poetry and then to dramas and diaries. Finally, the first two decades of the twenty-first century confirmed the resurgence of interest in Michael Field, with critics such as Marion Thain and Ana Parejo Vadillo exploring this poetic duo within the wider context of fin-de-siècle literature.

This paper will delve into various possible reasons why Bradley and Cooper, in spite of early positive reviews and the recognition of some literary greats of their age, were never granted a place among canonical British writers. Some of the avenues that will be explored are their fluid, queer identity and their refusal to define their gender; their tendency to write outdated literary genres such as verse historical dramas; the fact that they were female aesthetes, whose poetry was caught between paganism and Catholicism, homosexual and heterosexual love, femininity and masculinity, Victorian age and Modernism, tradition and modernity; their unwillingness to compromise their vision for popularity or commercial success; as well as their determination to create beautiful, well-designed books, published exclusively in rare and limited editions, which made them famous only among a small circle of connoisseurs.


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How to Cite

Tica, D. D. . (2023). CANON OR NOT CANON: THE CURIOUS CASE OF MICHAEL FIELD . PHILOLOGIST – Journal of Language, Literature, and Cultural Studies, 14(28), 322–342.