Review by Choice Review
Scharnhorst (English, Univ. of New Mexico) presents a life that, as he writes, "deserves to be resurrected from the footnotes." The book is heavy with detail: long lists of well-connected people Field knew; lengthy summaries of a lifetime of travel spots; pagelong paragraphs of sometimes not-so-valuable information. But as the first solid study of one of the most versatile and fascinating women of the 19th century, the book does fill a gap in the literature. Journalist, playwright, actress, paid promoter of Bell's telephone, America's best lecturer/interpreter of Dickens, promoter of anti-temperance, and archenemy of the "organized treason" of Mormonism, Field (1838-96) supplied newspapers and periodicals with admirably crafted (and at times controversial and acerbic) articles for the last third of the 19th century. Since the only other relatively recent book about her is Kate Field: Selected Letters, ed. by Carolyn Moss (CH, Apr'97, 34-4283), this biography, with its complete bibliography and extensive notes, will serve as a good introduction to this remarkable journalist. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers, all levels. S. W. Whyte Montgomery County Community College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Biographer Scharnhorst rediscovers one of America's first celebrity journalists. With parents in show business and publishing, young Field came naturally to her calling, contributing pieces to the New Orleans Picayune at 17 and traveling to Italy to study voice two years later, just in time to observe the opening volleys in the Italian Revolution and the Austro-Sardinian War. This led to published war commentary in the BostonCourier, followed by dismissal for her apparent partisanship, the first of her many conflicts with editors. While abroad she met notable artists, including George Eliot in 1860, who proved that genius has no sex. Emboldened, Field went on to a stellar career, writing for the Boston Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the New York Herald and starting her own Kate Field's Washington, an influential independent weekly. This first book-length biography of Field in more than a century reveals an important force in the history of women and the press, and with its meticulous research and lively writing, it is a notable addition to both fields.--Scott, Whitney Copyright 2008 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
Kate Field, a journalist and celebrity in 19th-century America, has disappeared from our collective memory. Scharnhorst (English, Univ. of New Mexico; Bret Harte) draws on a wide range of primary documents to reconstruct her life, filling in a missing piece of cultural history. Field grew up in a theatrical family; her father was occasionally a journalist and newspaper owner, and her first writings were published in the family newspaper. Throughout her life, she freelanced for a number of prestigious publications, including the Chicago Tribune and the New York Herald. From 1890 to1895, she edited and published the weekly Kate Field's Washington, which gave her free rein to lobby for her own causes. Not an easy person to categorize, she argued for black rights yet was passionately opposed to immigration. She founded a woman's club after she was refused entrance to the New York Press Club during a visit by Charles Dickens, but she was never a supporter of universal suffrage. She associated with literary celebrities such as the Brownings, Anthony Trollope, and Dickens and was herself the subject of press coverage. A focus on the details of her daily life, such as her lecture schedule, and many summaries of her writings weigh this biography down, making it difficult to get a broader sense of the woman who was Kate Field. Academic libraries with women's and journalism history collections should purchase.--Judy Solberg, Seattle Univ. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.