Kate Field was born in St. Louis in 1838 to Joseph and Eliza (Riddle) Field, who were popular actors. Since their profession required them to travel extensively, the young Kate was educated privately in New Orleans, St. Louis, and Boston. In 1859 Field traveled with her mother to Europe, and during her three- year stay in Italy, she became friends with Robert and Elizabeth Browning, Anthony and Tom Trollope, Walter Savage Landor, and George Eliot. Anthony Trollope, like the elderly Landor, fell in love with Kate, and their friendship lasted until his death. Field's long journalistic career began during this period with a series of "press letters" from Europe for New York and Boston newspapers. She also began to contribute literary and biographical articles to Atlantic Monthly, North American Review, and other periodicals.
Kate Field returned to the United States in 1863 and began her diverse career as a writer, lecturer, and actress. She wrote drama criticism for many periodicals and, in 1867, began a series of theater articles for The Atlantic Monthly. In the same year, she published her first book, Adelaide Ristori, a biography of the famous Italian actress. She followed this in 1868 with two slim volumes, a translation and adaptation of Giovanni Costanza popular Italian comedy, Mad on Purpose, and a strange little book on spiritualism, Planchette's Diary, told in first person by the wooden spirit-writing tool used in the sessions. She attended many of the lectures of Dickens's American tour and turned her descriptions and impressions of the popular novelist and his portrayal of his characters into a well-received book, Pen Photographs of Charles Dickens's Readings, published in 1871.
Field went on the lecture circuit and became well known in America and