Margery Kempe - Margery Kempe (1373- post 1438) First...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
First autobiography in English I: Background An eight-page pamphlet was published by Wynken de Worde in a 500-copy edition entitled A Short treatise of contemplation taught by our Lord Jesu Christ, taken out of the book of Margery Kempe of Lynn . All but one copy, in University College, Cambridge, perished, and scholars placed Margery among the English mystics of the period, of whom there were many, such as Hilton, Rolle, and Juliana of Norwich. In 1934, Miss Hope Emily Allen was allowed to look at a manuscript in the library of Col. Butler Bowdon of Pleasington Old Hall in Lancashire. A scholar of Robert Rolle, she soon discovered that it was the book from which de Worde had derived his pamphlet, but that it was not a book of devotion. Instead, it was a rather massive autobiography; the first written in English, and one of the few deep personal insights we have into the life and thoughts of a member of the middle class of the period. It gave us an amazing picture of a peculiar person. II: Birth and youth (1373-1393) Margery Kempe was the daughter of John Burnham, five times mayor of the town of Lynn, a flourishing town of Norfolk. One could digress upon the growth of the prosperity of Lynn: The flatness of East Anglia, the draining and development of the salt marshes, the growth of the wool industry in the thirteenth century coincident with the towns of Flanders outstripping their own sources of raw materials; the use of tides and currents to reach either Flanders or the Low Countries, the increased importance of the town with the growth of the Hanseatic League. There is little remarkable about Margery's youth to be noted, except for two things. The first is that, for some reason or another, she was not taught to read. This was a normal accomplishment for a middle class girl of the times, since society was becoming generally literate, at least among the well to do. This was to affect Margery later in life, throwing her upon her own mental resources to an unusual degree, for better or for worse. One could also develop the theme of the importance of the ability to read in avoiding self-delusion. The second remarkable thing is something of which we know little, since it was a secret sin, of which Margery would not speak. More than likely it was something relatively minor, and there is some reason to believe that it was in the nature of a sexual pecadillo. It was, however, to have an immense effect upon Margery's later life. In 1393, Margery married John Kempe, a young merchant of the town, and a member of the same Corpus Christi guild as her father. Marriages were not exactly made in heaven at this time, but Margery and John seemed to get along well together. He was understanding and kind, and Margery took immense pleasure in physical love. This being the case, it was not unusual that she quickly became pregnant. III:Struggle for Freedom (1394-1413)
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course HISTORY 170 taught by Professor Romero during the Fall '11 term at Rutgers.

Page1 / 5

Margery Kempe - Margery Kempe (1373- post 1438) First...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online