Victorian Maenads: on Michael Field's Callirrhoe and being driven mad

Article


Bickle, Sharon. 2010. "Victorian Maenads: on Michael Field's Callirrhoe and being driven mad." The Michaelian.
Article Title

Victorian Maenads: on Michael Field's Callirrhoe and being driven mad

Article CategoryArticle
Authors
AuthorBickle, Sharon
Journal TitleThe Michaelian
Number of Pages10
Year2010
Place of PublicationHigh Wycombe, Bucks. United Kingdom
Web Address (URL)http://www.oscholars.com/Field/MF2/bicklearticle.htm
Abstract

It is not unwarranted to describe the reception that greeted Michael Field’s debut book of verse dramas, Callirrhoë: Fair Rosamund, as frenzied. This ‘New Poet’ was compared to Swinburne, to George Eliot, and to Shakespeare; his “poetic fire” sounding “like the ring of a new voice, which is likely to be heard far and wide among the English-speaking peoples” (“A New Poet” 681). From the sober perspective of 1886, less than two years later, the Liverpool Mercury noted this ‘lady’ had at first “laboured under the grievous disadvantage of rather indiscreet adulation” (“The Year 1886”). Before the chill reservations of lady authorship, however, Victorian Britain was mad for Michael Field: uncertain, discomforted, but clearly enthralled by what Mary Robinson called the “glories of enthusiasm … the gospel of ecstasy” (395). In the remorse of the ‘morning after,’ Literary London awoke to the realization they had flung themselves not at the feet of a beautiful, languid boy-poet, but a far more prosaic aunt-niece partnership—Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper: spinsters from the suburbs of Bristol. Never again would reviewers swing the thyrsus pole with such abandon. This article seeks to reclaim what it is about Callirrhoë—now a little known historical closet drama—that fired up London with Maenadic madness

KeywordsMichael Field; 19C women writers; collaboration; British literature; verse drama
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020470504. British and Irish literature
Byline AffiliationsUniversity of Queensland
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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https://research.usq.edu.au/item/q271y/victorian-maenads-on-michael-field-s-callirrhoe-and-being-driven-mad

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