Support by Woman

What interested me most about the Michael Field’s reading is the reasoning for creating a pseudonym in the first place. Of course, society forced women in the nineteenth century to rely entirely on their husbands and fathers. The men are the providers of the home and women have no rights of their own that would allow them independence. So, if a woman is looking for a means of supporting herself, that means something went wrong. The male figure in her life that was supposed to take care of her failed. He could have fallen ill and died, been in an accident, drank himself to death. The women who decide publishing will be their means of income are looking to be supported by the middle and upper class. These people have more resources to share with those in need, which those living in poverty can’t provide. It did not surprise me to read about Katharine Harris Bradley’s early life hardships. Her father passed when she was a toddler, and then she sister became handicapped after the birth of her second child. Bradley was placed into a life where the support lacked, and she was very soon after handed the responsibility of supporting another family. Publishing was something she had to do. It was not a leisurely activity for her to pass time. Bradley was an independent and well-educated woman, so she had the privilege of being able to take a shot at publishing. Not all women who were forced into her positions in the nineteenth century had this luxury. 

I think that it is incredibly special that Edith could bond with her aunt over writing. Katharine experienced yet another tragedy with a male when she studied in Paris, and she believed that she would have no other option than to be a spinster. Receiving support from another woman, however, they were able to lift each other up and support their family in a time period where this was a rarity.

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