Annotated Bibliography


Margery Kemp


by LeAnn Magners

last updated

April 25, 1999


Ashley, Kathleen. "Historicizing Margery: The Book of Margery Kempe as Social Text" The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies Vol. 28 No. 2 (Spring, 1998): 371-389.

Ashley examines The Book of Margery Kempe for its historical context. She concludes that the book gives an accurate account of society, customs, and changing attitudes of the emerging middle class. She also posits that the era was in the throes of responding to the evolving questions that arose within this changing society. These questions involved the efforts of society to reconcile secular with religious duties. Her footnotes feature an impressive source list.


Atkinson, Clarissa W. Mystic and Pilgrim: The "Book" and the World of Margery Kempe. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983.

Atkinson holds the position of Assistant Professor of History of Christianity at Harvard Divinity School. Her very readable volume is comprehensive and enlightening. Students of Margery Kempe will have seen Atkinson as one of the most cited authors and with good reason. Atkinson’s work is completely documented, footnoted, and has an index to guide its readers. This is a must-read for Kempe historians.


Beckwith, Sara. "A Very Material Mysticism: The Medieval Mysticism of Margery Kempe." In Medieval Literature: Criticism, Ideology, and History, ed. David Aers, 34-57. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1986.*

Beckwith's article is also reprinted in Gender and Text in the Later Middle Ages ed. Jane Chance. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1996.

Beckwith's article is a feminist analysis of The Book of Margery Kempe. She discusses Kempe as "the other" and articulates the construction of femininity and subjectivity within the context of mystical Christianity and medieval autobiography.


Bennett, Judith M. Women in the Medieval English Countryside: Gender and Household in Brigstock Before the Plague. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Chapter VII of Bennett’s work, "Medieval Women in Perspective," is one of the best sources of women’s lives during the time of Margery Kempe. Page 188 is specific to her. The book has a rich bibliography and significant footnotes. Reading Bennett can give an idea of the era during which Kempe lived.


Bitterling, Klaus. " Margery Kempe, an English ‘Sterte’ in Germany." Notes and Queries, IDW, England. March, 1996. 21-22.

This two-page essay details the possible meanings of the word ‘sterte’ which Kempe was called after she was abandoned by her guides in Germany. Bitterling reports that the most probable meaning of the term is vagabond or tramp.


Bosse, Roberta Bux. "Margery Kempe’s Tarnished Reputation: A Reassessment." Fourteenth Century English Mystics Newsletter Vol. 5 No. 1 (1979): 9-19.

Bosse reevaluates the diction and genre of The Book to determine how much of it is "true" Margery and how much can be attributed to the amanuenses. She examines the purpose of the work: was it an apologia or intended to depict Margery as a saint? This is an interesting study of literary genre especially concentrating on diction. It also offers a good bibliography.


Butler-Bowden, W. ed. The Book of Margery Kempe New York: The Devin-Adair Company. 1944.

This volume is valuable for a number of reasons not the least of which is that Butler-Bowden is the owner of the original manuscript. This edition includes an introduction by R. W. Chambers of University College, London and a preface by Butler-Bowden. The notes and index allow research in many areas of the Book. This volume takes second place only to the Meech and Allen version published in 1940.


Campbell, Michael S. "'All My Children, Spiritual and Bodily:' Love Transformed in The Book of Margery Kempe," in The Journal of the Association for the Interdisciplinary Study of the Arts Vol. 1. (Fall, 1995): 59-69.

Campbell expands Clarissa Atkinson's thesis that Kempe's Book reveals experiences which are unified within the complex structure of bodily and spiritual "transvaluation." He states that the syntax of the work equates the spiritual and bodily elements and is thus a "rhetorical merging" of these elements.


Cholmeley, Katharine. Margery Kempe: Genius and Mystic. London: Longmans, Green and Co. 1947.

Cholmeley’s work is brief and focuses on the religious aspects of the Kempe life. Although Cholmeley recounts Kempe’s life within Lynn as well as her pilgrimages, she also relates some details of fifteenth century life. Most likely an accurate account, the book offers no footnotes, bibliography, or index.


Cleve, Gunnell. "Semantic Dimensions in Margery Kempe's 'Whyght Clothys.'" Mystics Quarterly Vol. 12 No. 4 (December 1986): 161-170.

Cleve examines the significance and impact of Kempe's wearing white clothes. White, the color of chastity as well as the necessary attire for the "Bride of Christ," reveals not only Kempe's vulnerability but also her transcendence into a spiritual state. Cleve's study of the reactions of society and impact on Kempe's behavior to this attire makes for a thought-provoking essay.


Cohn, Ricki Jean. "God and Motherhood in The Book of Margery Kempe." Studia Mystica Vol. 9, No. 1 (Spring 1986): 26-35.

Cohn discusses the concept of God as mother within the context of Kempe's Book. She contends that the clerics with whom Kempe came into contact reveal God as a nurturing, maternal figure. Cohn argues that these attributes became part of God's gifts to Kempe. Within these arguments, Cohn asserts Kempe's legitimacy as a true mystic.


Colledge, Eric, ed. The Medieval Mystics of England. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961.

Medieval Mystics is an anthology of excerpts from the texts of seven English mystics of the middle ages. Its ninety-page introduction offers insights for social and religious historians but does not expand the knowledge base.


Collis, Louise. Memoirs of a Medieval Woman: The Life and Times of Margery Kempe. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1964.

Collis' book is a combination novel, history, work of literature, and an adventure tale. It is difficult to classify because Collis uses some footnotes, cites some sources, and includes a good bibliography. The book is very readable and well written. Collis is primarily a writer of novels but this book, based on The Book of Margery Kempe, strives to place Kempe in historical perspective. Many of the illustrations would make a valuable contribution to the proposed Margery Kempe website. I highly recommend this book for its readability and historical contexts.


Coulson, Carolyn. "Mysticism, Meditation, and Identification in The Book of Margery Kempe." Essays in Medieval Studies Vol. 12. (1996),, 69-79.

Coulson investigates Kempe’s visions and distinguishes between those coming from meditation and those of a spontaneous nature. She posits that although the actions resulting from her visions are heterodoxical, she is neither heretical nor unorthodox in actuality. Engaging and well-presented, Coulson’s essay offers a novel perspective.


Delaney, Sheila. "Sexual Economics, Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, and The Book of Margery Kempe." The Minnesota Review Vol. 5 (1975): 104-115.

Delaney compares Chaucer’s Wife of Bath and her obvious enjoyment of sex and her use of sexuality with Margery Kempe’s denouncement of sex. Delaney explores their use and purposes of sex while placing the two women within their socio-economic sphere. She also discusses the economics of place, marriage, and trade during fifteenth century England. This is an interesting study from historical and literary perspectives. Unfortunately, the footnotes are of little value and there is no bibliography.


Despres, Denise L. "The Meditative Art of Scriptural Interpolation in The Book of Margery Kempe." Downside Review 253-263.

Despres’ essay delves into the origins of the medieval meditative mindset and its implications for Kempe and her contemporary spiritual writers. Despres concludes that the extant scholastic polemics on Scriptural teaching were the framework and mold of Kempe’s actions as well as her narrative.


Dickman, Susan. "Margery Kempe and the English Devotional Tradition." In The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England: Papers Read at The Exeter Symposium, July, 1980. ed. Marion Glasscoe, 156-172. Exeter: University of Exeter, 1980.

Dickman's engaging essay discusses Margery Kempe’s divergence from the religious norms of her day. Kempe’s move away from the contemplative life as well as actively professing her faith moved religious participation from the realm of the elite clergy into that of the people. According to Dickman, Kempe pioneered the mode of religious observance seen in the twentieth century.


Dorsey, Peter. "Women's Autobiography and Hermeneutics of Conversion." Auto/Biography Studies Vol. 8 No. 1 (Spring 1993): 72-90.

Dorsey's essay delves deeply into to subjects of feminine conversion and spiritual autobiography. Intelligent and thoroughly researched, Dorsey's essay concludes that women's spiritual autobiography is rich and full. Moreover, this subject of the hermeneutics of conversion deserves a place in women's studies.


Ellis, Deborah S. "Margery Kempe and the Virgin’s Hot Caudle." Essays in Arts and Science Vol. 14 (May 1985): 1-11.

Ellis discusses Kempe’s use of "homely" aspects of domestic life to recast herself from housewife to eccentric pilgrim. Within this context, Kempe redefined her position as wife, mother, neighbor, Christian, pilgrim, and mystic. Ellis states Kempe succeeded in realigning her life by controlling each paradox as it presented itself.


Erskine, John A. "Margery Kempe and her Models: The Role of the Authorial Voice." Mystics Quarterly Vol. 15 No. 2 (June 1989): 75-85.

Erskine’s essay reveals that authors of medieval works were not seeking originality but conformity to established norms. Continuing that argument, he contends that Kempe’s Book was based on the lives of the saints. However, the authority and author of this aspect of the work is, according to Erskine, the priestly amanuensis.


Fienberg, Nona. " Thematics of Value in Margery Kempe." Modern Philology: A Journal Devoted to Research in Medieval and Modern Literature 87 (November 1989): 132-141.

Fienberg looks at the medieval value system and Margery Kempe’s manipulation of her place within it. The book presents a complex study of perceptions of personal worth within fifteenth century England. Fienberg asserts that the Kempe work mirrors Margery’s continual recreation of self within the male dominated society throughout her life.


Foss, Reverend David B. "From God as Mother to Priest as Mother: Julian of Norwich and the Movement for the Ordination of Women. Downside Review. (July, 1986): 214-226.

Foss uses a comparison of Kempe and Julian which highlights their similarities of gender and religiosity in order to project his argument. Foss questions whether Julian's life and works can be legitimately used by moderns as an argument for women to become priests. His conclusions are to be expected but his argument is well stated.


Fredell, Joel. "Margery Kempe: Spectacle and Spiritual Governance." Philological Quarterly Vol. 75 (Spring 1996): 137-166.

Fredell speaks to the questions involved in the dichotomies existing between Margery’s secular and spiritual existence. The main issue for Fredell is an accounting for Margery’s introspection and her performance of "visionary martyrdom" before an audience. He informs his reader that Margery resolves the issue by embodying both spiritual and corporal qualities. Fredell’s notes offer little and there is no bibliography.


Fries, Maureen, "Margery Kempe." In An Introduction to the Medieval Mystics of Europe: Fourteen Original Essays. ed. Paul E. Szarmach, 217-235. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984.

Fries enumerates Kempe's many worldly and pious activities and places them in perspective in plain language while examining the historiography surrounding The Book of Margery Kempe. She argues that while some authors demean Margery's actions, some praise her piety, and others delve into peripheral issues, all should instead be "grateful to her for her different view of feminine spirituality in the middle ages."


Furlong, Monica. Visions and Longings: Medieval Women Mystics. Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1996.

Furlong's work is basically a history and explication of the medieval female mystics. One of her nine chapters is devoted to Margery Kempe. Although the work offers no new insights, the grouping of them into a single volume can be helpful for a cursory study.


Furrow, Melissa. "Unscholarly Latinity and Margery Kempe." In Studies in English Language and Literature: Doubt Wisely, Papers in Honour of E. G. Stanley, ed. M. J. Toswell and E. M. Tyler, 240-251. London: Routledge, 1996.

Furrow writes a fascinating study of medieval languages, their uses, propagation, and importance in the fifteenth century. Within the context of this study, Furrow posits that Kempe had a "pragmatic" use and understanding of Latin and quite possibly other languages as well.


Gallyon, Margaret. Margery Kempe of Lynn and Medieval England. Norwich: The Canterbury Press, 1995.

Gallyon’s work is a valuable resource for a number of reasons. She reviews a majority of the passages in The Book of Margery Kempe and suggests contexts and possibilities for what Kempe was most likely to have seen and experienced. Gallyon is a former High School teacher of the town of Lynn, Kempe’s place of birth and residence. Gallyon’s research reveals writings to which Kempe most likely had access (aurally as Kempe was illiterate.) Much of the work is devoted to putting Kempe into geographical, religious, cultural, and historical context. The illustrations are priceless. Her extensive bibliography is also invaluable.


Gibson, Gail McMurray. "St. Margery: The Book of Margery Kempe." In Equally in God's Image: Women in the Middle Ages, ed. Julia Bolton Holloway, et al. 144-163. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc., 1990.

Gibson's essay looks at the nurturing as well as the healing capabilities of Kempe as exposed in Kempe's Book. Gibson questions whether Kempe might have seen herself as a saint much like the Saint Margaret of Lynn's cathedral. Fascinating and thought provoking, this essay offers a wealth of notes and bibliographic content.


Glasscoe, Marion. English Medieval Mystics: Games of Faith. London: Longman Group U. K. Ltd., 1993.

This work by Glasscoe discusses six English Medieval Mystics, one of them, Margery Kempe. According to Glasscoe, Kempe's individualistic mode of piety and expression are no less a part of the mystic tradition for its unique qualities. Basically a study of the religious aspects of medieval mystics and their mode of expressing faith, the book also offers some interesting arguments for believing in Margery Kempe's piety.


Glasscoe, Marion, ed. The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England: Papers Read at The Exeter Symposium, July, 1980. Exeter: University of Exeter, 1980.

On the order of an anthology, this edition features several essays which offer insights into the Kempe book. While Kempe is the subject of only one of the essays, she remains a large part of several of them. This scholarly work looks at various aspects of mysticism in the middle ages and has merit.


Glenn, Cheryl. " Reexamining The Book of Margery Kempe: A Rhetoric of Autobiography." in Reclaiming Rhetorica: Women in the Rhetorical Tradition, ed. Andrea A Lunsford. 53 -71. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995.

Glenn examines The Book of Margery Kempe for its place in written and spoken language. She also gives an historical perspective to the book’s position in relation to the literature of its era. Mentioning the unknown females who were "under the aegis of religious orders and writing in either French or Latin," Glenn also places Kempe in the chronological company of Chaucer, Mallory, the authors of the mystery plays, and the unknown author of "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." Glenn also points out dichotomies in Kempe’s nature which are exposed in The Book of Margery Kempe. Glenn's work is an interesting and worthy work with a compact yet valuable bibliography.


Goodman, Anthony E. "The Piety of John Brunham’s Daughter, of Lynn," In Medieval Women ed. Derek Boher, 347-358. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1978.

Goodman’s essay compares the writing of both of Kempe’s amanuenses to prove the truth of her (Kempe’s) sanctity. delving into ecclesiastical history, Goodman paints a vivid picture of Kempe’s perception of herself, life, and faith. Additionally, the essay offers a glimpse of the social interchange, church happenings and hierarchy, community life, and economic circumstances in which Kempe existed. Goodman’s essay is well written and presents a unique perspective on Kempe and her times.


Green, Alice Stopford. (Mrs. J. R.) Town Life in the Fifteenth Century. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1907.

First published in 1893, Green’s history presents the reader with a view of town life in fifteenth century England which includes insights into the beginnings of industrialization and its concomitant commercial reach. Along the way, Green reveals aspects of the economic, political, and social structure of life during this age. She discusses diverse peoples, trades, crafts, guilds and their laws, customs, and accepted behaviors and manners. Of particular interest to students of Margery Kempe are numerous references to the Town of Lynn. The 1907 edition combines two volumes, each with separates indices. Although the work is well footnoted, it does not offer separate bibliographies. Green’s book is a valuable tool to understanding commerce, travel, economics, religion, and political power in fifteenth century England.


Hanna Ralph, III. "Some Norfolk Women and Their Books." In The Cultural Patronage of Medieval Women, ed. June Hall McCash, 288-305. Athens: The University of Georgia, 1996.

This essay is part of an anthology about medieval women but speaks specifically about Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe. This is a good source for placing medieval women in cultural context. The bibliographic references are also valuable.


Harding, Wendy. "Medieval Women’s Unwritten Discourse on Motherhood: A Reading of Two Fifteenth Century Texts." Women’s Studies Vol. 21 (1992): 197-209.

Harding attempts to reveal the experiences, feelings, and responses to the one true identifier of gender, that of motherhood. She uses the writings of Margaret Paston and Margery Kempe to discover what a fifteenth century mother was like. She discovers the first to relate experiences within the framework of male discourse and the latter to depict an image of motherhood in feminine terms. This essay works well as a gender and psychological study but is not especially valuable to history or literary studies.


Harvey, Nancy Lenz. "Margery Kempe: Writer As Creature." Philological Quarterly 71 (Spring 1992): 173-184.

Designed for academics with a knowledge of medieval language, this essay examines the words of the Kempe book. Harvey contends that there is unity in the structure of the Book that reflects Margery’s growth through her mystical experiences. Moreover, Harvey proposes that Margery’s writings are the physical manifestation of those spiritual experiences and is as complete as it was intended to be.


Heffernan, Thomas J. Sacred Biography: Saints and Their Biographers in the Middle Ages. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Heffernan only refers to Kempe and her book once or twice in the course of this volume but it might be a useful reference for religious perspective.


Helfers, James P. " The Mystic as Pilgrim: Margery Kempe and the Tradition of Nonfictional Travel Narrative." Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association Vol. 13 (1992): 25-45.

Helfers looks at the changing patterns of pilgrimage from physical journey to a combination of internal to external movement. The author says that The Book of Margery Kempe is a microcosm of the shift in pilgrimage ideology that was taking place as society changed. Helfers essay is well written but it lacks a bibliography or footnotes.


Higgs, Laquita. "Whete-Breed or Barly-Breed?" Mystics Quarterly Vol. 13 No. 2 (June 1987): 57-64.

Higgs’ essay discusses the dichotomies of Kempe's attempt to balance her piety with her worldly life. Higgs relates Chaucer's Wife of Bath's words (whete-breed equates to chaste woman and barly-breed to married), to the complexity of Kempe's married life of chastity. Higgs concludes that Kempe was yet barly-breed, yet had achieved holiness within that state.


Hirsh, John C. The Revelations of Margery Kempe. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1989.

Hirsh investigates the spiritual aspects of The Book of Margery Kempe and posits that she was a product of her age, that mystical experiences were sought in the era, and that the proliferation of religious texts aided these manifestations. Hirsh studies the texts of the era within the context of the Kempe Book while also assessing both in conduction with recent studies.


Hirsh, John C. "Margery Kempe." In Middle English Prose: A Critical Guide to Major Authors and Genres, ed. A. S. G. Edwards, 109-119. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1984.

Hirsh lists an impressive bibliography of primary and secondary sources for the study of Margery Kempe. He also writes an explanation of the historiography of the book and its critics. This is a valuable research tool.


Ho, Cynthia. "Margery Reads Exempla." Medieval Perspectives Vol. (1993): 143-152.

Ho's essay argues that Kempe's access to the literature of her era informed her of existing religious traditions which she used throughout the Book. Ho asserts that Kempe uses this knowledge of the exempla didactically for the benefit of herself and her audience.


Holbrook, Sue Ellen. "'About Her' Margery Kempe's Book of Feeling and Working." In The Idea of Medieval Literature: New Essays on Chaucer and Medieval Culture in Honor of Donald R. Howard, ed. James M. Dean and Christian K. Zacher. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1992.

Holbrook looks at the historiography of the Kempe volume and discerns that there are many aspects of the subject that have yet to be broached. The thrust of this essay is the actual production of the Book and its implications within the context of autobiography. Holbrook's essay is a feminist document that hopes to put Kempe in a class with some of the gifted writers of her age.

Holsinger, Bruce Wood. " The Flesh of the Voice: Embodiment and the Homoerotics of Devotion in the Music of Hildegard of Bingen." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 19 (Autumn 1993): 92-125.

While largely about Hildegard of Bingen, Holsinger’s essay uses Margery’s description of the physical effects of her initial conversion to prove his thesis. Holsinger states that Margery’s experiences illustrate that Hildegard’s music is a celebration of the female body. This fascinating reading is directed at students of music and literary comparisons.


Hopenwasser, Nanda. " The Multi-Levelled Structure of The Book of Margery Kempe: A Short Study of a Spiritual Journey." Medieval Perspectives Vol. 8 No. 1 (Spring 1988): 150-163.

This very short essay examines the spiritual portion of Margery’s journey and explores how her every experience is spiritual in nature. The author tells the reader that Margery’s spirituality is passed on to those who read her work and that although not obvious, the work contains historical and literary authority and context. The article is too short but the bibliography is useful.


Hopkins, Andrea. Most Wise and Valiant Ladies. London: Collins and Brown, Ltd., 1997.

This small volume relates what it was like to be a woman in medieval Europe. Hopkins features about a half a dozen women of the period and puts them into historic perspective. Her account of Margery Kempe is well written, readable, and accurate. Characteristic of all the accounts are illustrations and art which graphically portray the lives of women. There are no footnotes or bibliographies but the author does offer a suggested reading list.


Howes, Laura L. "On the Birth of Margery Kempe’s Last Child" Modern Philology: A Journal Devoted to Research in Medieval and Modern Literature. Vol. 90 No. 2. (Nov. 1992): 220-25.

Howes investigates what she posits is the birth of Kempe’s fourteenth child. Within this short essay Howes reveals many as yet unanswered questions about Kempe’s life outside of the spiritual aspects which she divulges.


Jacob, E. F. Essays in Later Medieval History. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1968.

This is a study of some of the figures in Catholic Church history and is relevant for several reasons. The book lends insights into the ideologies and mindset of the middle ages as well as exposing some of the inner political gyrations of the era. Chapter VIII, entitled, "Founders and Foundations in the Later Middle Ages," gives a comprehensive picture of how things began, were funded, and propagated during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It presents the era from an unusual perspective.


Johnson, Lynn Staley. "The Trope of the Scribe and the Question of Literary Authority in the Works of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe." In Speculum 66 (Oct. 1991): 820-838.

Johnsons article examines the language of these two works in an effort to determine if the scribe (writer) put his spin on the words of the author or if the authors used the scribes in order to put forth a specific message. The basic question within Johnson’s work is who controlled the outcome of the work. Did the authors deliberately use language to achieve direct authority of the meaning of the work? In her essay, Johnson compares the two women’s language to the ways that Chaucer used language. She offers an interesting essay and valuable tool for literary studies.


Johnson, Lynn Staley, "Margery Kempe: Social Critic." In The Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Vol. 22 No. 2 (Spring, 1992): 159-184.

In this article, Johnson looks at Margery as she relates, and conversely does not relate, to the people with whom she comes in contact and their actions and reactions. Within this work, Johnson also interprets Margery’s perception of herself as a spiritual being juxtaposed to the temporal existence of other earthly beings. It is an interesting study which looks at Margery as a dichotomous entity: one part of her living the secular, gritty life of a fifteenth century woman and the other as a projection of spirituality. As usual, Staley-Johnson writes from an interesting perspective, this one questions our beliefs about gender and social hierarchy in fifteenth century England.


Kelly, Joan. "Early Feminist Theory and the Querelle de Femmes, 1400-1789." Signs: Journal of Women in Society and Culture Vol. 8 No 1 ( Autumn, 1982): 4-28.

Kelly states that Margery Kempe and others of her age began the dialogue on feminist issues. She writes an interesting polemic about how women questioned early Christian writings and church doctrine. Her footnotes are useful and if one is researching feminist issues, Kelly’s work is impressive.


Kelly, Joan. Women, History, and Theory: The Essays of Joan Kelly. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1984.

Kelly's essays give a feminist perspective to women of many eras but especially the time frame of Margery Kempe. Her work describes women's social, sexual, political, and familial roles. Included in this collection of essays one finds several which explain women's changing place within society as well as the ideologies concerning women which were in place during the middle ages and after. Basically a treatise on feminist theory and the changing view of women through the centuries, Kelly's book could be a valuable research tool for women's studies within the context of social history.


Kempe, Margery. The Book of Margery Kempe. Translated by B. A. Windeatt. London: Penguin Books, 1985.

Windeatt provides a new interpretation of the Kempe Book as well as a nineteen-page introduction telling about the book, the woman, and the times. He also includes an excellent time line of the life of Kempe as disclosed in The Book. Additionally, the notes and bibliography give further evidence of the research Windeatt has performed to achieve this work.


Kieckhefer, Richard. Unquiet Souls: Fourteenth Century Saints and Their Religious Milieu Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1984.

Chapter seven is devoted entirely to Margery Kempe. Within this chapter, Kieckhefer looks at the manifestation of Margery’s spirituality. His work looks at the progress of religious expression as it evolved in the fourteenth century.


Knowles, David. The English Mystical Tradition. London: Burns & Oates, 1961.

Chapter eight of Knowles’ volume considers Margery Kempe and tells the reader that Kempe’s religious experiences and reminiscence of them were not like those of other English mystics of her era. Knowles concludes that although Kempe was "courageous," she was not a true mystic. The chapter offers a condensed history of the Book and valuable insights into the woman.


Koskenniemi, Inna, "On the Use of Repetitive Word Pairs and Related Patterns in The Book of Margery Kempe." Style and the Text: Studies Presented to Nils Erik Enkvist, 212 -218. Stockholm: Sprakforlaget Skeptor AB and ABO Akademi, 1975.

Basically a language study of The Book of Margery Kempe, this work posits that the use of repetitive structures clearly places the work within the fifteenth century genre of art and literature. This essay would be useful for researchers into language and use. The work was written at the University of Turku by an author who uses much of her own published work as source material. To her credit, there are several other bibliographic citations worth noting.


Kurtz, Patricia Deery. "Mary of Oignies, Christine the Marvelous and Medieval Heresy." Mystics Quarterly Vol. 14 No. 4 (December 1988): 186-196.

Kurtz uses the works of Mary of Oignies and Christine the Marvelous to put the tears of Kempe into perspective. Kurtz's premise states that the study of these two earlier mystics impart credence as well as understanding to the text of Kempe's Book.


Lagorio, Valerie Marie and Ritamary Bradley. The Fourteenth Century English Mystics: A Comprehensive Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1981.

Lagorio offers a bibliography of a number of fourteenth century English mystics and includes a number of citations for Margery Kempe. While there are some good references within this work, the 1981 date is evidence that the data needs updating. Lagorio's efforts on the other mystics is impressive but the Kempe citations are limited.


Landman, James H. "The Laws of Community, Margery Kempe, and the ‘Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale’" Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Vol. 28 No. 2 (Spring, 1998): 389-425.

Within this essay, Landman examines how his subjects fit within the expectations of their community and how they defy community norms. Within the contexts of the needs of self and the rules of community, Landman finds a prime example in Margery Kempe. Landman’s work looks closely at guilds, work, legal machinery and laws, and describes fifteenth century life as one of thrust and parry for control. Landman's essay is good fifteenth century history but not germane to the study of Margery in particular.


Lochrie, Karma. "The Book of Margery Kempe: The Marginal Woman’s Quest for Literary Authority." The Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Vol. 16 No. 1 (Spring 1986): 35-55.

Lochrie’s essay reports on the machinations that women employed in the middle ages for the purpose of lending credence and weight to their writings. Kempe used every device at her disposal, exceeding, in some aspects, authors of works prior to hers. This essay gives a glimpse at the difficulties of being a woman in a patriarchal society.


Lochrie, Karma. Margery Kempe and the Translations of the Flesh. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991.

Lochrie presents a feminist view of Kempe's Book. She argues that the expression of female mysticism in medieval times was subversive to the patriarchal culture of the era. She elucidates the historical perspective for the new expression of mysticism by women of the later middle ages as a "symbolic construct." Above all, she offers a new perspective on Margery as female.


Lucas, Elona K. "The Enigmatic Threatening Margery Kempe." Downside Review 294-305.

Lucas suggests that previous interpretations of Kempe’s life have misjudged both the woman and her spirituality. This essay purports that Kempe simply threatened the social and spiritual norms of medieval Christianity. According to Lucas, the reflection that Kempe mirrored was unacceptable to medieval society.


Maclean, Ian. The Renaissance Notion of a Woman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980.

An intellectual monograph which examines how "woman" was viewed before, during, and after the Renaissance. Maclean seeks to interpret Latin writers’ laws and views about the female of the species. His conclusions, as well as the text are convoluted. Written by an intellectual, for intellectuals, the work offers a wealth of information if one can untangle the language and has the ability to decipher the many Latin phrases.


Madigan, Shawn, C. S. J. ed. Mystics, Visionaries, and Prophets: A Historical Anthology of Women’s Spiritual Writings. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998.

Dr. Madigan has compiled the lives of women who played an important role in Catholic history and folklore. Within this volume the reader will find essays on Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich. Since the work is by a Catholic cleric, one might expect the religious focus to outweigh any historical value. However, this is not the case with this work. The research is based on recent secular works and the bibliography and notes are useful, especially for one seeking a cursory look at the subjects.


Mason, Mary G. "The Other Voice: Autobiographies of Women Writers." In Essays Theoretical and Critical, ed. James Olney, 207 - 235. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980.

This essay presents a look at four autobiographies of women which Mason views as "prototypical." The four include Julian of Norwich, Anne Bradstreet, Margaret Cavendish, and Margery Kempe. In her work, Mason states that these four women not only disclosed their intimate selves but set paradigms of feminine autobiography which hold today. Mason compares and contrasts each woman with male writers to prove her thesis. This is an interesting study for language and literature but not very useful for historical inquiries. Additionally, the work is not profitable for its bibliographic content.


McCash, June Hall, ed. The Cultural Patronage of Medieval Women. Athens: The University of Georgia, 1996.

As the title suggests, this work looks at the ways in which women promoted the arts and literacy during the Middle Ages. It is also a study of medieval social customs and organization. Several pages of the work are devoted to The Book of Margery Kempe. McCash’s bibliography is extensive and impressive, making it an important tool for medieval studies.


McEntire, Sandra J., ed. Margery Kempe: A Book of Essays. New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1992.

This anthology is divided into three parts: The Woman, Her Work, and Her World. All of the essays revisit The Book of Margery Kempe with a view to more critical examination of all aspects of the book, the author, and the era. A worthy collection of essays, each suggests a wealth of information on the various investigations discussed. All present some insights not previously argued. Furthermore, the essays furnish very useful notes and bibliographic references for further inquiry.


McEntire, Sandra. "Walter Hilton and Margery Kempe: Tears and Compunction." In Mysticism: Medieval and Modern, ed. Valerie M. Lagorio, 49-57. Salzburg: Institut Fur Anglistak Und Amerikanistik, Universitat Salzburg, 1986.

McEntire's essay compares and contrasts the mystical aspects of Kempe and Hilton. She asserts that although Kempe was not a mystic of his caliber, her tears manifest true faith. Moreover, her religious orthodoxy combined with her active participation in secular life, do not cancel her as a true mystic.


Medcalf, Stephen, ed., The Later Middle Ages. New York: Holmes and Meier, Publishers Inc., 1981.

Medcalf's volume contains five essays, most of which discuss or use the Kempe Book as a point of reference. An interdisciplinary study of the literature of the later Middle Ages, this work discusses meaning, structure, aesthetics, and other aspects within varying perspectives.


Meech, Sanford Brown, ed. The Book of Margery Kempe. London: Oxford University Press, 1940.

This is the original Book published for The Early English Text Society (EETS) and owned by Colonel W. Butler-Bowden. Meech and Hope Emily Allen have added notes, introductory material, and appendices. This volume is valuable not only for its being the first translation of the fifteenth century manuscript but also for the detailed data about the origins, language, amanuenses, and general historical information. No subsequent edition approaches it for the richness of historical detail.


O’Connell, Rev. Sir John R. "Mistress Margery Kempe of Lynn." The Downside Review 55 ( January - October 1937): 174-182.

O’Connell’s essay, written a year after The Book was discovered, speaks to the issues of Margery’s spirituality and The Book’s historical significance. O’Connell states that all of Margery's fourteen children had predeceased her. It would be interesting to find his source for that data. The essay is short and readable but has neither notes nor bibliography to support some of his statements.


O’Follain, Julia, and Lauro Marines, eds. Not in God’s Image. New York: Harper & Row, 1973.

O'Follain and Martines offer an edited collection of primary documents and visual arts which attest to the words of mostly men and their ideas about women from early Greece through Victorian England. It is an interesting resource for women’s studies but not much value for a study of Margery Kempe. However, one might glean a few historically relevant facts from both the art and words of the fifteenth century representations.


Painter, Sidney and Brian Tierney. Western Europe in the Middle Ages: 300 - 1475. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970.

Originally written by Painter as A History of the Middle Ages, this volume considers the Christian Church and Europe throughout the evolution of the middle ages. the major focus is on the period before the fourteenth century but has a fair amount of data on the politics, church, society, art, literature, education, and culture of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Although both authors were members of history departments at respected universities, the book has no footnotes and the bibliographic entries are recorded at the end of each chapter. Because the volume was written from the perspective of theology and political power, one might disregard it as a useful tool for the current research. It is for these vary reasons that it has value - the change of perspective lends an additional facet to the data.


Parker, Vanessa. The Making of King's Lynn: Secular Buildings From the 11th to the 17th Century. London: Phillimore & Co. Ltd., 1971.

Parker presents a history of King's Lynn through a look at its architecture. The book includes photos, drawings, maps, tables, and appendices which graphically illustrate King's Lynn's evolution. Parker tells of the economic development, the buildings, the homes, the layout, and the people. This is a beautifully done volume with a wealth of history between the pages.


Pearson, Samuel C. "Margery Kempe: Her Book, Her Faith, Her World." The American Benedictine Review Vol. 32 No. 4 (Dec. 1981): 365-377.

Pearson recites the impressive historiography of The Book of Margery Kempe and then makes an admirable attempt at deciphering the content of The Book in order to get a more accurate picture of her. This a well-researched article which points out aspects of Margery’s life, her charity, and personal and religious conflicts. Pearson paints a strong case for the continued significance of Margery in religious study while questioning whether she was a mystic or simply ascetic. Pearson lists a valuable bibliography within his footnotes.


Power, Eileen. Medieval People. Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1924.

Power relates the stories of six peasants, merchants, and travelers from the era of Charlemagne through the sixteenth century. Beautifully, skillfully told stories of real people comprise this little book. One can really get the feel of the times and circumstances of which the individual subject is part. Rich in detail and local color, Power’s book carries the reader through the details of their lives and the grit of their existence. Carefully researched, documented, and colorfully told, Power’s Medieval People is a blend of history and novel well worth the reading.


Provost, William. "The English Religious Enthusiast: Margery Kempe." In Medieval Women Writers, ed. Katharina M. Wilson, 297-319. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1984.

Provost’s essay gives some introductory material and clear insights into the Kempe manuscript. The balance of the short work condenses several of the first chapters of the Book and offers a wealth of notations on the manuscript and its contents. Provost writes a readable, useful synopsis of the Kempe work.


Putnam, Emily James. The Lady: Studies of Certain Significant Phases of Her History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970.

Two sections of this book are useful to medieval studies: The Lady Abbess on pages 69 -105 and The Lady of the Renaissance on pages 158 - 210. Both give a partial view into women’s lives during the period in which Margery Kempe lived. Beware that the author neither cites sources nor follows a strict time line.


Ross, Ellen. "She Wept and Cried Right Loud For Sorrow and For Pain: Suffering, the Spiritual Journey, and Women's Experience in Late Mysticism." In Maps of Flesh and Light: Religious Experience of Medieval Women Mystics. Ed. Ulrike Wiethaus, 45-59. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1993.

One of twelve essays written by religious academics about medieval women mystics, Ross' contribution analyzes the vividly pronounced suffering and women's experience in The Book of Margery Kempe. Ross contends that Kempe's written expression of suffering was a form of resistance as a counter to the ever-present misogyny of the era. Although not expressly a feminist document, Ross' essay examines Kempe's language for its theological implications and advances feminist theory.


Ross, Robert. "Oral Life, Written Text: The Genesis of the Book of Margery Kempe." The Yearbook of English Studies (1993): 226-237.

Ross’ essay proposes that the only way to view The Book is as if it were an oral history. Ross contends that many of those studying and writing about The Book as a dictated verbatim history of a life work under false premises because those premises are insupportable. The essay is thought provoking, erudite, and designed to elicit an academic response.


Sawyer, Michael E. A Bibliographic Index of Five English Mystics: Richard Rolle, Julian of Norwich, The Author of the Cloud of Unknowing, Walter Hilton, Margery Kempe. Pittsburgh: The Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, 1978.

This bibliographic index is dated, or rather outdated, yet it offers paths to materials not usually accessible. Most likely by dint of the purpose of the work (theological study), the major portions of the works cited have some theological grounding. Mostly articles comprise the bulk of the listings but it also cites some theses, dissertations, and a few books. For the most part, access to the materials might be difficult by virtue of their age and type of publication.


Shklar, Ruth. "Cobham’s Daughter: The Book of Margery Kempe and the Power of Heterodox Thinking." Modern Language Quarterly: A Journal of Literary History 56 (September 1995): 277-304.

Shklar posits that Kempe not only "collides with Lollardry but makes it work for her." Shklar’s article claims that Kempe’s defying of church standards was a form of dissent and a method of reform. The author also states that Kempe "manipulated" judicial structure and emerged a "reformer in her own right" while avoiding the consequences of the charges of heresy and Lollardry. Clever and thoroughly reasoned, this article gives an noteworthy perspective.


Skinner, John. The Book of Margery Kempe. Doubleday Dell Publishing Company, 1998.

Skinner presents a modern translation of the book with a preface that is both comprehensive and readable. Within this introductory material, Skinner relates a brief biography of Kempe and perspectives on fourteenth century life.


Slade, Carole. "Alterity in Union: The Mystical Experience of Angela of Foligno and Margery Kempe." Religion and Literature Vol. 23 No. 3 (Autumn 1991): 109-126.

Slade interprets the feminist writings of the French theorist, Luce Irigaray using two medieval mystics. Slade's essay contends that these women achieved more power by virtue of their public religiosity than normally possible within the overwhelmingly patriarchal and misogynist Middle Ages.


Smith, Sidonie. A Poetics of Women’s Autobiography: Marginality and the Fictions of Self-Representation. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.

Smith’s book contains a chapter which delves into Margery Kempe’s autobiographical data. Smith’s book is a gender study which contemplates the "textual and contextual" implications of the woman behind the text.


Staley, Lynn, ed., The Book of Margery Kempe. Kalamazoo: Western Michigan University, 1996.

Staley's offers a modern, yet readable edition of The Book while retaining its medieval flavor. Her introduction contains valuable insights into the manuscript as well as an impressive list of sources. The notes section explains much of the editorial process that emended the manuscript. Additionally, the publication includes a glossary of medieval words and translations as a guide for novice and experienced medievalists.


Staley, Lynn. Margery Kempe’s Dissenting Fictions. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994.

Staley’s work is a critique of Kempe’s book in which she (Staley) posits that rather than being autobiographical, the work is a clever social commentary about the times, life, religion, community relations, and feminist positions of the fifteenth century. It is an interesting theory and is supported by an impressive bibliography. Primarily an English criticism, its value to historians is also significant.


Stargardt, Ute. "The Beguines of Belgium, the Dominican Nuns of Germany, and Margery Kempe." In The Popular Literature of Medieval England, ed. Thomas J. Heffernan, 277-313. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1985.

Stargardt compares The Book of Margery Kempe with the writing of the others in the title of this work. He speculates on the possibility of Kempe having access to these works and thus influenced by them. In part, he opines whether Kempe's work was a deliberate attempt to affect social and religious norms.


Stone, Robert Karl. Middle English Prose Style. The Hague: Mouton & Co. N.V. Publishers, 1970.

Stone contrasts and compares the prose style of Julian of Norwich with that of Margery Kempe. Stone's work adds to the study of Middle English prose and posits that the works of these women were more than devotional writings. The fact that both women came from the same geographical area allows a close study of the works for levels of literacy, educational development, biographic elements, autobiographical elements, and much more. This study will be of value in the study of literature, history, as well as its contributions to autobiography and the study of mysticism. Additionally, it affords a most useful bibliography.


Stuard, Susan Mosher, ed. Women in Medieval History and Historiography. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987.

Stuard provides a comprehensive bibliography which includes specific entries relating to Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich. Pages 10, 87, 141 - 142 list sources pertinent to studies of these women.


Tarvers, Josephine K., "The Alleged Illiteracy of Margery Kempe: A Reconsideration of the Evidence," in Medieval Perspectives Vol. 11 (1996):113-124

Tarvers writes a compelling article which questions Margery Kempe’s illiteracy. She postulates that Margery’s illiteracy was only in Latin, not in the written vernacular. Her premise is sound as well as carefully reasoned and argued. She writes a very readable paper that is supported by solid evidence.


Thurston, Herbert. "Margery the Astonishing." The Month (November 1936): 446-456.

Thurston’s article looks at Margery’s remarkable success as she travels through foreign countries depending on "the kindness of strangers." This 1936 work reports on the charity and good will that she engendered in fifteenth century Catholic England despite the eccentricities of her demeanor.


Triggs, Tony D. The Book of Margery Kempe: The Autobiography of the Madwoman of God. Ligouri: Triumph Books, 1995.

Triggs offers a modern translation of Kempe’s autobiographical work and prefaces his volume with biographical data. The volume is translated into modern English which is almost too accessible. For readers wishing to research the subject further, Triggs includes suggested reading. The book features two estimable maps of Kempe’s travels.


Ulhman, Diana R. "The Comfort of Voice, the Solace of Script: Orality and Literacy in The Book of Margery Kempe." Studies in Philology 91 (Winter 1994): 50-69.

Uhlman writes a well-reasoned argument which examines the language of the book and posits that the oral and written modes of the structure are mutually reinforcing. This article deserves a thorough reading for its look at the language and complexities.


Watkin, E. I., "On Julian of Norwich and In Defence of Margery Kempe." In Exeter Medieval English Texts and Studies. ed. M. J. Swanton.*

*"In Defence of Margery Kempe" was an essay in The Downside Review volume 59 (July 1941): 243-263.This is a Catholic Journal printed for the Downside Abbey at Bath by the Catholic Records Press, Exeter.

There is no title page, copyright information, publisher, place or date of publication listed. There is a 1979 preface to the book by Marion Glasscoe. It is a very small book consisting of sixty-five pages and the two essays which are noted in the title. Both are revealing and ask and answer many questions. Clearly written, easily read, Watkin’s essays present a Christian perspective that posits that Margery Kempe had a charitable nature (after the visions began) and that she was truly inspired by her faith.


Webb, Deanna. " Women Pilgrims of the Middle Ages." History Today Vol. 48 No. 7. (July, 1998): 20-26.

Webb writes a beautifully clear study of pilgrimage in medieval times as it related to women. Easily read, the essay explains the rules, traditions, and particulars of pilgrimage which help the student of Margery Kempe to understand the circumstances of her journey. The reprints of art and artifacts are of particular interest and there is also a limited bibliography.


Weissman, Hope Phyllis, "Margery Kempe in Jerusalem: Hysterica Compassio in the Late Middle Ages." In Acts of Interpretation: The Text and its Contents 700 - 1600 Essays on Medieval and Renaissance Literature in Honor of Talbot Donaldson. eds. Mary J. Carruthers and Elizabeth D. Kirk, 201 - 217. Norman: Pilgrim Books, 1992.

Weissman's essay explores the possibility that Kempe’s "hysterical" condition lends value to determining her relevance to history and literature. Basically an interpretation, Weissman’s essay looks at the language of The Book of Margery Kempe to determine whether it is deliberate and designed to follow preconceived ideologies of religiosity or if Kempe’s perceived hysteria actually transcends accepted norms. While an interesting study, its value lies in its psychological examination of The Book of Margery Kempe rather than literature or history. Additionally, the work is not significantly valuable for its bibliographic content.


Wilson, Janet. "Communities of Dissent: The Secular and Ecclesiastical Communities of Margery Kempe's Book." in Medieval Women and Their Communities, ed. Diane Watt, 155-185. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997.

Wilson's essay elucidates the communal atmosphere in the early fifteenth century. She points to the "incipient dissatisfaction with the church." A main argument centers around the fifteenth century move away from public participation in church to more private venues of worship. Wilson raises some questions that delve into the context of the true relationship between community, church, and individual.


Wilson, Richard M. "Three Middle English Mystics." Essays and Studies for Members of the English Association, N. S. 9 (1956): 87-112.

Wilson considers the prose style of Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich and Richard Rolle. Wilson also looks at their various forms of mysticism within the scope of its beginnings in fourteenth century Christian England. This is an engaging literary study.


Winstead, Karen A. "The Conversion of Margery Kempe’s Son." English Language Notes 32 (December 1994): 9-13.

Winstead uses the language of Margery’s books to prove her thesis that Kempe's son had a life and attitudes much as his mother. Winstead also proposes that Margery took responsibility for her son’s conversion. Additionally, she posits that The Book’s revelation of his conversion relates Margery’s only maternal moments. The essay is short and to the point with interesting arguments.


Yates, Julian. "Mystic Self: Margery Kempe and the Mirror of Narrative." Comitatus Vol. 26 (1995): 75-93.

Yates' essay contends that not only was Kempe a mirror of society, she also reflected divinity itself. The central theme of Yates' study asserts that the narrative of Kempe's Book mirrors not the author but the larger issues of piety, religion, and medieval life.


Yoshikawa, Naoe Kukita, "Searching for the Image of New Ecclesia: Margery Kempe’s Spiritual Pilgrimage Reconsidered,’ in Medieval Perspectives Vol. 11 (1996): 125-138.

Yoshikawa's interesting essay posits that Margery’s actions and affectations are grounded in the milieu of prevailing religious knowledge. Yoshikawa also tells the reader that Margery saw herself as the temporal bride of Christ and as mediator between earthly and heavenly messages. Margery’s piety, pilgrimage, and charity are described as challenging the existing ecclesiastical norms and thus become a struggle for Margery as well as for church authorities. Well-written and equally well-researched, the essay offers new perspectives on Margery Kempe.