Margery Kempe

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Definition

Margery Kempe (l. c. 1373 - c. 1438 CE) was a medieval mystic and author of the first autobiography in English, The Book of Margery Kempe, which relates her spiritual journey from wife and mother in Bishop's Lynn, England to a chaste Christian visionary and popular – if controversial – public speaker. Kempe was illiterate and dictated her life story first to her son and then to a priest, as she records in her book, and it remains a significant resource on Christian spirituality and life in the Middle Ages.

More about: Margery Kempe

Timeline

  • c. 1373 - c. 1438
    Life of Christian mystic Margery Kempe.
  • c. 1393
    Marriage of Margery Brunham to John Kempe.
  • c. 1393
    Margery Kempe experiences mental breakdown after the birth of her first child.
  • c. 1394
    Margery Kempe recovers and devotes herself to God following a vision of Jesus Christ.
  • 1413
    Margery Kempe travels to Canterbury; almost burned as a heretic for speaking about God.
  • c. 1413
    Margery Kempe visits Julian of Norwich for validation of her visions.
  • 1414
    Margery Kempe is in Rome; visits Saint Bridget's room.
  • 1417
    Margery Kempe on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
  • 1417
    Margery Kempe tried for heresy at Leicester and released.
  • c. 1431
    Margery Kempe returns home to care for husband who dies the same year.
  • c. 1431
    Margery Kempe dictates the first draft of her book to her son John who dies shortly afterwards.
  • c. 1436
    Margery Kempe dictates her story to a priest who writes it down, correcting earlier version.
  • 1438
    Final revision of The Book of Margery Kempe; Kempe assumed to have died this same year.
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