The First Woman Writer in the English Language

Who was the first known woman writer in English? I’ll give you a clue: she wrote in the late 14th century. Still stumped? Don’t feel bad. No one knows her name. She is called after the church where she lived and wrote: Julian of Norwich.

When I was in Norwich last month, I stopped in at the little chapel of St. Julian’s where she was an anchoress (sort of a hermit). Actually, it was a replica of the church, the original having been bombed in the Second World War.

When Julian was ill at the age of 30, she received visions and voices from God, which she called “showings.” She believed they were meant for every Christian and so she made sure they were written down, something quite remarkable in her time. Women weren’t taught to read or write and they were certainly discouraged from making their voice heard on religious matters.

Here is what Julian said: “Just because I am a woman, must I therefore believe that I must not tell you about the goodness of God  when I saw at the same time both his goodness and his wish that it should be known?”

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