East Anglia, Land of the Iceni Names & Legends

Julian of Norwich (1342 - c.1429)

Strange as it may seem, not even the real name is known of the person who has the distinction of being the first woman to write a book in English.

The 14th century was a time of plague and death. Many of those that survived became hermits, living a life of solitude in small cells. Several of them became 'mystics' and people came to them for comfort and advice.

In May 1373, the lady of our story became seriously ill and was on the point of death when she had a series of visions or 'showings' as she called them.
She made a quick recovery, and wrote down her experiences in a short book. Soon after she became an 'anchoress' (hermit) in a small room attached to St. Julian's Church, off King Street; and hence took the name of Julian.

Statue of Julian at Norwich Cathedral
Statue of Julian at Norwich Cathedral

Over the next 20 years she studied, reflected, and eventually wrote the main book based on her experience, The Relevations of Divine Love, which has become regarded as a spiritual classic.
Her writings are unusual (but not unique) in talking of God as 'mother'.

Web Link: Julian of Norwich Shrine


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Copyright © Ken Ward 2004
Photographs Copyright © Ken Ward 2004 (unless otherwise stated)
Last Updated: 11 May 2004


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