Tara Williams
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Recreating and reassessing Margery and Julian’s encounter
in Encountering The Book of Margery Kempe
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Several twentieth- and twenty-first-century scripts dramatise the encounter between Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich, including J. Janda’s Julian, Dana Bagshaw’s Cell Talk, Heidi Schreck’s Creature, and the Queynte Laydies’ Marge & Jules. The re-creations develop the women’s relationship through private conversations, following the format of Margery’s Book even if they privilege Julian as a character. These modern plays point up a parallel focus on Margery and Julian’s connection in scholarly interpretations of the Book; however, a re-examination of the fifteenth-century text reveals emphases on Julian’s authority and Margery’s network rather than on a female friendship. The chapter considers their encounter in the context of Margery’s many other exchanges with religious and secular figures in public, private, and visionary spaces. The placement of their meeting within a series of visits in Norwich and the description of their ‘dalyawns’ and ‘comownyng’ (terms used to characterise multiple other encounters) locate it within the pattern of Margery’s meetings with religious figures rather than friends. She seeks out Julian for her visionary expertise and authority, as part of an ongoing project to collect approvals and develop a diverse and international network.

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