Skip to main content

A Medieval Woman: Reading 'The Book of Margery Kempe'


There are no classes currently available for registration.


The Book of Margery Kempe (1438) is the first autobiography in the English language, describing the life and times of Margery Kempe - a mayor’s daughter, mother of fourteen, mystic, controversial preacher and wealthy wife.

Our short course, A Medieval Woman: Reading 'The Book of Margery Kempe', gives you the opportunity to study The Book of Margery Kempe in detail, and to develop an understanding of fifteenth-century England and Europe. We ask why might a medieval person want to write a book, and what does it tell us about medieval life and culture?

Taught by leading expert on Kempe, Professor Anthony Bale, who has edited and translated The Book of Margery Kempe and written several studies of her, the course is suitable for anyone interested in the Middle Ages but who has not previously studied this book in detail. It might be especially suitable if you want to learn more about medieval England, or are interested in English history, women’s history, and everyday life in the past. You are not expected to have a detailed knowledge of the Middle Ages or the ability to read Middle English (we will study the book in modern English translation).

This course plans to cover the following themes:

  • Introducing Margery Kempe: the town of Lynn
  • Religion and mysticism in The Book of Margery Kempe
  • Daughter, wife and saint: becoming a woman in medieval England
  • The medieval world: pilgrimage and travel
  • Old age, experience and the writing of The Book of Margery Kempe
  • The Book of Margery Kempe in the twentieth century and beyond

This course consists of six 90-minute meetings, each structured around a mini-lecture, close analysis of short extracts, discussion and a weekly quiz.

This course is non-credit bearing, so carries no credit points.

  • Entry requirements

    Entry requirements

    Most of our short courses have no formal entry requirements and are open to all students.

    This short course has no prerequisites.

    As part of the enrolment process, you may be required to submit a copy of a suitable form of ID.

    International students who wish to come to the UK to study a short course can apply for a Visitor visa. Please note that it is not possible to obtain a Student visa to study a short course.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You register directly onto the classes you would like to take. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis - so apply early. If you wish to take more than one short course, you can select each one separately and then register onto them together via our online application portal. There is usually no formal selection process, although some modules may have prerequisites and/or other requirements, which will be specified where relevant.