From the Back Cover
This is the first edition for sixty years of the earliest surviving autobiography in English, the unique account (dated 1436-8) of the extraordinary life, travels and revelations of Margery Kempe, a Norfolk housewife and mother, pilgrim, prophet and visionary. For the first time the original text is presented in an accessible form for modern readers, with full on-page glossing and a glossary of common words. The unrivalled on-page annotation provides the first commentary of its kind on the Book, bringing together the insights of scholarship on Kempe since the discovery of the manuscript in 1934, and setting the life of a remarkable Englishwoman in the social, political and spiritual context of her times. An introduction provides up-to-date information and contexts for interpretation of a text central to courses on women’s studies, women’s history, and medieval literature. There is also a chronology of Kempe’s life, a helpful summary analysis of the chapters, and a full bibliography, in this new edition of a work now accepted as among the most compelling and significant English texts of the Middle Ages.
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About the Author
Margery Kempe, born c.1373, was of a well-to-do middle-class family from King's Lynn in Norfolk. Married at twenty, she had a vision of Christ in her madness following her first childbirth, and after early failures as a businesswoman, felt herself called to the spiritual life. At about the age of fourty, after she had born fourteen children, she persuaded her husband to a vow of chastity and began a pilgrimage across England, Europe and the Holy Land. She was a controversial figure and was often nearly burnt at the stake as a heretic. Towards the end of her life she dictated an account of her travels and visions, which was discovered in 1934. It is the earliest example of an autobiography in English.
B. A. Windeatt is Fellow and Director of Studies in English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and Reader in Medieval Literature in the University of Cambridge.