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Middle English Mysticism


As a canon the “Middle English Mystics” is a small one. It consists of just five writers, Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe and the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing, whose theological treatises encompass the years between c. 1330 and c. 1440. Nonetheless, despite its relatively small size, this canon has withstood the test of time and offers modern readers great insights and instructions for the contemplation and acceptance of God.


1. Richard Rolle 2. Walter Hilton 3. Julian of Norwich 4. The Cloud of Unknowing 5. Margery Kempe 6. Bilbliography

Richard Rolle(1300 -1349)

Born around 1300 at Thornton, Yorkshire Rolle was a prolific and popular writer before and after his death on September 29, 1349 at Hampole. In fact his writings had such a profound effect on his contemporaries that he was scheduled for canonization. His most popular writings, De emendatione vitae, De incendio amoris(works written during his first years as a hermit about his spiritual journey) and The Pricke of Conscience remain popular reading for new age mystics.

Walter Hilton(d. 1396)

Outside of his writings little is known about Hilton. His best known work The Scale of Perfection is universally regarded as the most balanced perspective of Middle English interior life to be produced. Hiltons linguistic simplicity and deep thoughtfulness served to distinguish him from peer writings of the time.

Julian of Norwich (1342-c1412)

Of all the mystics Julian is often regarded as the most well known. In May of 1373 when she was just thirty one years old Julian was struck by an illness so severe that her death seemed imminent. As a result a priest was summoned and during the issuance of her last rites , as Julian later recalls, she saw real blood flowing from the head of Christ on the cross which the priest instructed her to gaze upon for comfort. This showing was the beginning of sixteen revelations given to her before she subsequently recovered from her illness and, and went on to write about the experience that was later titled Revelations of Love.

The Cloud of Unknowing (c1375)

This book, hailed even today for it’s contemplative insights and simple meditative phrases remains anonymous although at least two subsequent works with the same traits have been attributed to it's author. In the The Cloud of Unknowing, the author stresses worship of God with one's very being over the hollow repetition of words given by another.

Margery Kempe

Of all the mystics Kempe is considered to be the most controversial. A wife and mother of fourteen children she lived an adventurous life that involved pilgrimages to far-flung destinations, experiencing and writing on madness and visions, and censure for her often blunt way of speaking to anyone she thought deserving of reprimand. Despite her apparent zeal for the flamboyant, and claims of receiving ‘the gift of tears’( for years Kempe sobbed loudly and theatrically at Mass) her book, The Book of Margery Kempe, offers reader a glimpse into her profound and direct relationship with God and The Virgin Mary.

Bibliography 1. Religious Life:

2. Shared Wisdom:

3. The Catholic Encyclopedia:

4. The Cloud of Unknowing:

5. The Website of Unknowing:


Great topic! The most obvious issue you have is formatting. Headings, correct italizations, and more links would be helpful. I like your section on Jullian of Norwich and Margery Kempe. I think the others, especially The Cloud of Unknowing, need more information. Letter grade: B

Very interesting topic. I agree that the formatting needs a bit more work, and there could be a few more external links as well. Letter grade: B

Watch for run on sentences in the beginning, and punctuation. Very informative and well organized: A-

The topic is very interesting and as a basic introduction, your entry definitely serves to inform readers initially about the subject. You might have gone into a bit more detail for some of the parts, especially with Rolle. Also, most of the external links only went to and so did not actually give more information on the topic. Finally, be very careful on the grammar (such as its vs. it's) and the formatting. B

This seems to be, almost certainly, a basic introduction. While it is a large subject, it seems that there should be more information than what is there as this only gives the most basic introduction. In addition, the formatting makes it problematic. B

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