The Book of Margery Kempe - The British LibraryThe project based at Durham University and funded by the Wellcome Trust explores the phenomenon of hearing voices without external stimuli auditory verbal hallucinations , and it has drawn attention to the relevance of premodern narratives for voice-hearers in the present, and to the correspondences as well as differences between past and present. Her experiences and behaviours have attracted a variety of medical diagnoses, ranging from hysteria to psychosis to temporal lobe epilepsy. Contemporary non-medical accounts of voice-hearing and unusual experience in the healthy population provide closer analogues, particularly accounts of religious experience in evangelical communities and in non-Western tradition. They are in keeping too with medieval concepts of thought and sensory perception, which allowed for the notion of an inner eye and ear, and hence the possibility of visionary experience and of hearing inner voices. Qualitative studies have shown that supernatural or spiritual explanations remain some of the most available and powerful for voice-hearers themselves.
The Book of Margery Kempe
The Book of Margery Kempe: Book I, Part I
Laying claim to being the first autobiography ever written in English, the "extraordinary" life story of the medieval mystic Margery Kempe, which exists in only one known copy, has been digitised by the British Library for the world to view. Kempe lived in Norfolk from around to After she had given birth to 14 children, she made a vow to live chastely with her husband, and embarked on pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela, Italy and Germany. Her devotion was expressed through loud cries and roars, which often irritated bystanders, but she became famous as a mystic, and claimed to have conversations with God. She dictated her life story to a priest, but her autobiography was only known through excerpts printed by Wynkyn de Worde in , and by Henry Pepwell, who called her a "devoute ancres", in , until a complete manuscript — thought to be a copy made from the original, possibly under Kempe's supervision — was discovered in a cupboard in the s.
The story of the eventful and controversial life of Margery Kempe - wife, mother, businesswoman, pilgrim and visionary - is the earliest surviving autobiography in English. Here Kempe c.
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Margery Kempe c. Her book chronicles her domestic tribulations, her extensive pilgrimages to holy sites in Europe and the Holy Land , as well as her mystical conversations with God. She is honoured in the Anglican Communion , but was never made a Catholic saint. The first record of her Brunham family is a mention of her grandfather, Ralph de Brunham in in the Red Register of Lynn. By he had joined the Parliament of Lynn. No records remain of any formal education that Margery may have received. As an adult, a priest read to her "works of religious devotion" in English, which suggests that she might have been unable to read them herself, although she seems to have learned various texts by heart.
Margery Kempe lived in the East Anglian town of Lynn in the early 15th century, and was at various times the owner of a horse-mill and a brewer, but later in her life she became a visionary and mystic. She was also the mother of 14 children. Everything we know about Margery comes from her own account. The autobiography is therefore written in the third person. Margery married when she about 20 years old, giving birth to her first child soon after. Today we might recognise this episode as a bout of post-natal depression.
One cannot present facts of the language in the extant manuscript of the Book of Margery Kempe until one has given the best answer one can to the question, "Whose language is it? If there were manuscripts intervening between the priest's final copy and Salthows's, the linguistic and orthographic habits of their scribes might also have left their impression. Of the four, only Margery Kempe is provided in the Book with a life-history with which a student of dialect can be satisfied. She was born in Lynn, the daughter of a prominent citizen, married another citizen, and spent most of her life in that town. And sythen he deyd , p. The son. An unknown error has occurred.