Margery Kempe

Margery Kempe (kĕmp), d. 1438 or afterward, English religious writer, b. King's Lynn. She was the wife of a prominent citizen and the mother of 14 children. Her autobiography, The Book of Margery Kempe (complete ed. 1940; ed. with modern spelling 1944), was known only in small excerpts until 1934, when the whole was discovered. She was a religious enthusiast whose loud weeping in church and reproof of her neighbors kept her in public disfavor. She traveled abroad as a pilgrim, and her work has rich details of the everyday life of her time. The narrative is occasionally interrupted with visions, prayers, and meditations, many of them of great beauty. The book may be the earliest autobiography in English. See mysticism.

See biographies by M. Thornton (1961) and L. Collis (1964); study by R. K. Stone (1970).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Margery Kempe: Selected full-text books and articles

The Book of Margery Kempe By Margery Kempe; Sanford Brown Meech Oxford University Press; H. Milford, vol.1, 1940
Margery Kempe and Translations of the Flesh By Karma Lochrie University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994
The Grief of God: Images of the Suffering Jesus in Late Medieval England By Ellen M. Ross Oxford University Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, and Spiritual Anguish" begins on p. 31 and "The Body as Parable of Divine Sorrow: Margery Kempe" begins on p. 117
Women Pilgrims in Late Medieval England: Private Piety and Public Performance By Susan Signe Morrison Routledge, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Performing Margery Kempe"
Medieval Women's Visionary Literature By Elizabeth Alvilda Petroff Oxford University Press, 1986
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VIII "Women Writers of the Late Fourteenth Century -- Seeking Models"
Poets and Mystics By E. I. Watkin Sheed & Ward, 1953
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VI "In Defence of Margery Kempe"
Gender and Text in the Later Middle Ages By Jane Chance University Press of Florida, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "A Very Material Mysticism: The Medieval Mysticism of Margery Kempe"
Six Medieval Men and Women By Unknown, 1955
Librarian’s tip: "Margery Kempe" begins on p. 124
A Literary History of England By Albert C. Baugh Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1948
Breaking the Stained Glass Ceiling: Mercantile Authority, Margaret Paston, and Margery Kempe By Gastle, Brian W Studies in the Literary Imagination, Vol. 36, No. 1, Spring 2003
Margery Kempe: Spectacle and Spiritual Governance By Fredell, Joel Philological Quarterly, Vol. 75, No. 2, Spring 1996
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