The Book of Margery Kempe

Margery Kempe | The Book of Margery Kempe

The first autobiography written in English–by a brewery owner, Christian mystic, and mother of 14 named Margery Kempe, who died in the 15th century–is now available in a lively, modern translation by John Skinner. It begins with her stark conversion experience, heralded by a vision of Christ in her bedroom one night. The story follows Margery through pilgrimages across Europe and to the Holy Land, through a heresy trial in England, and her burgeoning mystical life. Similar in many ways to Showings by Julian of Norwich and the Confessions of Augustine,The Book of Margery Kempe is a beautiful description of medieval daily life and religious experience. –Michael Joseph Gross –This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

The story of the eventful and controversial life of Margery Kempe wife, mother, businesswoman, pilgrim and visionary is the earliest surviving autobiography in English. Here Kempe (c.1373 c.1440) recounts in vivid, unembarrassed detail the madness that followed the birth of the first of her fourteen children, the failure of her brewery business, her dramatic call to the spiritual life, her visions and uncontrollable tears, the struggle to convert her husband to a vow of chastity and her pilgrimages to Europe and the Holy Land. Margery Kempe could not read or write, and dictated her remarkable story late in life. It remains an extraordinary record of human faith and a portrait of a medieval woman of unforgettable character and courage.

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The Book of Margery Kempe in Middle English

Digitised Manuscript in the British Library

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