Project Description

During the late Victorian era, Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper published over 40 works under their joint pseudonym as ‘Michael Field’. But the couple’s most culturally-significant material is arguably in their unpublished diaries. These have, however, been inaccessible to most scholars for two reasons. Firstly, they are tucked away in the British Library archives. Secondly, the handwritten script, scrawled on thousands of pages across 29 volumes, is extremely time-consuming to read. Fortunately, the Victorian Lives and Letters Consortium recently published the diary volumes as freely available digital images, and the director of the archive, Professor Marion Thain, is leading a team of scholars to digitally encode the manuscripts using TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) so that they are easily accessible and searchable. TEI has traditionally been used to record bibliographic metadata but, given the language’s flexibility, it can also assist literary analysis by allowing scholars to mark up texts interpretively. The Brine project represents a crucial part of this on-going process around transcription and text encoding, working with one diary volume as the basis for developing encoding strategies outlined in Thain’s journal article ‘Digitizing the Diary: Experiments in Queer Encoding’ to facilitate analysis of the manifestations of identity formation present in all diary writing. By developing innovative TEI encoding strategies for literary purposes, the project contributes to the Victorian Lives and Letters Consortium archive, to broader research on the digitization of manuscript diaries, and to the ongoing development of the TEI initiative.