Women, Reading, and Piety in Late Medieval England

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Mary Erler traces networks of female book ownership and exchange which have so far been obscure, and shows how women were responsible for owning as well as circulating devotional books. Seven narratives of individual women who lived between 1350 and 1550 are enclosed by an overview of nuns' reading and their surviving books, and a survey of women who owned the first printed books in England. An appendix lists a number of books not previously attributed to female ownership.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is an admirable book. It is well researched, well written, and well presented, and it represents a real advance in the ongoing reevaluation of women's reading and literacy in late England." Journal of English and Germanic Philology

"Methodically researched and carefully argued, Women, Reading, and Piety in Late Medieval England was a pleasure to read and ought to be on every medieval English scholar's bookshelf." Canadian Journal of History

"Erler's book provides evidence of connections among women and will be informative for those interested in women's history ... and the history of books. Upper-division undergraduates and above." Choice

"Erler assimilates, analyzes and continues... groundbreaking work on medieval female reading practices." The Medieval Review

"Well written, learned, respectful of its subjects and filled with interesting ideas, it will richly reward the reader who gives it the careful attention it deserves." American Historical Review

"Rich and well-documented." SHARP News

"[This book's] importance, because of the information and materials [Erler] has gathered, in the study of late medieval devotion, women's history and late medieval culture cannot be emphasized more. Again, this well-written and well-documented book is an essential tool for any student or scholar interested in women, late medieval devotion and reading." Comitatus

"Interesting and compelling. Erler has succeeded with this work, and provided her readers with a considered, highly detailed, frequently provocative and undeniably important contribution to women's literary and social history." Arthuriana

"The author should be praised for delivering such a wealth of information in such a compact...piece of research." Medium Aevum

"Women, Reading, and Piety in Late Medieval England will be of as much interest to religious historians as it is to historians of the book. It is a thoughtful and reflective contribution to the history of female reading...." The Library

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Mary Erler is Professor of English at Fordham University. She has edited the work of the Tudor poet Robert Copland (1993) and has co-edited Women and Power in the Middle Ages (1988). She has written on devotional literature in L. Hellinga and J. B. Trapp (eds.), Cambridge History of the Book, Vol. 3, 1400–1557 (1999). Her essays have appeared in Renaissance Quarterly, Viator, The Library, Modern Philology, Medieval Studies, Medium Aewm, and other journals.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments; Prologue; Introduction: Dinah's story; 1. Ownership and transmission of books: women's religious communities; 2. The library of a London vowess: Margery de Nerford; 3. A Norwich widow and her devout society: Margaret Purdans; 4. Orthodoxy: the Fettyplace sisters at Syon; 5. Heterodoxy: anchoress Katherine Manne and abbess Elizabeth Throckmorton; 6. Women owners or religious incunabula: the physical evidence; Epilogue; Appendices; Notes; Select bibliography; Indexes.

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