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“The writyng of this tretys”: Margery Kempe’s Son and the Authorship of Her Book

Sobecki, S., Nov-2015, In : Studies in the Age of Chaucer. 37, p. 257-283 27 p.

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  • The writyng of this tretys Margery Kempe’s Son and the Authorship

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THE AUTHORSHIP OF The Book of Margery Kempe (henceforth The Book) has been the subject of much debate ever since the sole manuscript copy of the text was identified by Hope Emily Allen in 1934.1 This [End Page 257] article presents two pieces of new evidence relating to Margery Kempe’s son and to Robert Spryngolde, her confessor. The first item, a letter prepared for her son in Danzig (modern Gdańsk) in 1431, discloses the son’s name and the reasons for his journey to Lynn.2 This information, in turn, sheds new light on the account of The Book’s production as given in the proem. As a result, the discovery of the letter corroborates the theory that the son was Kempe’s first scribe. A second previously overlooked document shows the extent of Robert Spryngolde’s ties to Margery Kempe’s family, strengthening the case for his role as the clerical scribe behind much of The Book. Both findings help to anchor the supposedly autobiographical narrative in its immediate historical situation. Finally, I offer a revised explanation for the collaborative model behind the production of this text.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-283
Number of pages27
JournalStudies in the Age of Chaucer
Volume37
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2015

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