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Literature Study GuidesThe Book Of Margery Kempe

The Book of Margery Kempe | Study Guide

Margery Kempe

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Course Hero. "The Book of Margery Kempe Study Guide." June 28, 2019. Accessed May 29, 2023.


Course Hero, "The Book of Margery Kempe Study Guide," June 28, 2019, accessed May 29, 2023,



Margery Kempe

Year Published



Religious Text


Autobiography, Religion, Women's Studies

At a Glance

Written in the 1430s but published in full only in 1936, The Book of Margery Kempe is the autobiography of the spiritual journey of a late-medieval mystic. Unlike many other mystics of the era—who were monks, nuns, or hermits—Margery Kempe (c. 1373–c. 1440) was a woman of the world, born into a wealthy merchant family in a bustling English port city. She married, had 14 children, and embarked on a few business ventures of her own before leaving her secular life behind, in response to visions she experienced of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. Kempe's story, exceptional even today, is even more so for taking place in a time when women rarely traveled, were forbidden to preach, and were branded heretics or scolds (a term used for women deemed nags or shrewish) for the least act of self-assertion. Taking her contemporaries' censure and ill-treatment in stride, Kempe fashioned her own devotional life and made pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Rome, Germany, and Spain. Her Book is of interest not only to scholars of medieval Christianity but also to anyone seeking an unconventional and unabashed perspective on the English Middle Ages.

Perspective and Narrator

Margery Kempe recounts episodes from her own life in the third person, often referring humbly to herself as a "creature."

About the Title

The Book of Margery Kempe is an autobiographical, though not strictly chronological, narrative of the religious life of a remarkable late-medieval Englishwoman. Margery Kempe dictated the book to a scribe in the hope of preserving a record of the good works God had performed within her and through her, to benefit others.


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