Revelations of Divine Love

Introduction

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Revelations of Divine Love is a medieval book of Christian mystical devotions. It was written by an anchoress called Dame Julian, now known as Julian of Norwich, about whom almost nothing is known. The book is remarkable for being the earliest surviving example of a book in the English language to have been written by a woman.

Julian, who lived all her life in the English city of Norwich, wrote about the sixteen mystical visions or "shewings" she received in 1373, when she was thirty. Seriously ill, and on her deathbed, the visions appeared to her over a period of several hours in one night, with a final revelation occurring the following night. After making a full recovery she then wrote an account of each vision, in a manuscript now referred to as her Short Text. She developed her initial ideas over a period of decades, whilst living as a recluse in a cell attached to St Julian's Church, Norwich, producing a much larger version of her writings, now known as the Long Text. She wrote straightforwardly in Middle English, perhaps because she had no other language in which to express herself.

Julian's original manuscripts are now lost, but her work was copied and preserved by others, although it is known that many copied manuscripts were destroyed over the centuries. Four manuscripts of her writings survived, which have been used to produce many editions of her book, the first of which was a translation of the Long Text in 1670 by Serenus de Cressy.


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