The earliest autobiography by a woman, The Book of Margery Kempe, was missing for over 400 years before the only known copy was found in the cupboard an English country house in the 1930s during a game of ping pong. Kempe gave birth to 14 children and lived in Norfolk from approximately 1373 to 1440, making pilgrimages to Italy, Germany, Jerusalem, and Santiago de Compostela, and known for her loud, wailing (read: reportedly very annoying) public devotions to Christ. She dictated her life to a priest and through the ages, her story was only told through excerpts until the full manuscript was found. The Guardian reported this week that The Book of Margery Kempe will now be displayed for the first time with the first book in English by a woman, Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich, in an exhibition from the Wellcome Collection.
Julian of Norwich was a 14th century anchorite and pious hermit, who experienced visions in 1373 like one of “a little thing, the size of a hazel-nut, lying in the palm of my hand … I looked at it and thought, ‘What can this be?’ And the answer came to me, ‘It is all that is made.’” She first transcribed the visions in a short book, then expounded upon them 20 years later.
It’s not the first time the pair have come together: They actually met in about 1413, when Kempe consulted Julian of Norwich about visions, when the latter was behind bars.
Read the full story at The Guardian.