“The First Autobiography in English” – a Poppyland pamphlet
The Book of Margery Kempe of Lynn
The Book of Margery Kempe is believed to be the first autobiography in the English language, probably completed by its author in the late 1430s. It is listed by the British Library as one of seven highlights of our early literature, which also include Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love.
Any Norfolk aficionado will feel pleased to note two Norfolk women listed as pioneer authors. The two extraordinary women met and Margery records the meeting in her Book, the only record outside of Julian’s own writing of the older mystic’s existence.
In this pamphlet the author examines the history of the book itself and the manuscript that emerged in 1934. He explores its content and explains why it was such a pioneering work, the places that are still associated with Kempe and its influence on modern day writers, historians and dramatists.