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Kate Field in Newport


Though she is virtually unknown today, Kate Field (1838-1896) was "one of the best-known women in America" during her lifetime, according to her obituary in the New York Tribune. A member of the expatriate community in Florence in the late 1850s, she befriended the Brownings, the Trollopes, Walter Savage Landor, and the painter Elihu Vedder while she was still in short dresses. One of the first women to contribute to the Atlantic Monthly, she was also a popular lecturer and prolific travel writer for a number of papers during the 1860s and 1870s. Between 1890 and 1895, she published a weekly newspaper, Kate Field's Washington. In all, she published an estimated three thousand newspaper and magazine articles during her career. She was, in her heyday, the most prominent American woman journalist of the period, an unorthodox feminist and the model for the character of Henrietta Stackpole in Henry James's novel The Portrait of a Lady. More to the point, she was also a familiar figure in Newport over a period of nearly forty years.