The concerns with patterns of time and history which form the backbone of this study might be thought more intrinsic to the genres of life-writing and historical drama than they are to lyric poetry. Certainly one can see, through an exploration of these themes within the diaries and plays as well as the poetry, a kind of intellectual unity in the writings of Michael Field. Moreover, the experiments in these other genres provide a crucial theoretical frame for reading the lyric poems.
LIFE-WRITING: THE DIARIES AS AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NARRATIVE
The life-writing of Michael Field has been studied very little; no doubt in part because of the daunting number of hand-written manuscript sources left to us in the archives. My aim is not to offer an overview of that material, but rather to analyse the mode and structures of self-creation and narration which are apparent in Bradley and Cooper's diaries. What we find here are the same preoccupations which shape the literary work. In fact, I will be suggesting that we need to read the diary more as a crafted ‘work’ – as much worthy of literary attention as their poetry and plays – than as an intimate outpouring.
That Bradley and Cooper write the diaries under the name ‘Michael Field’ foregrounds the artificiality inherent in the construction of any life-narrative, and lays bare its methods.