Julian of Norwich: mother, mystic, radical

What can a 14th century woman writer's story teach us about our own lives?

The 14th century visionary Julian of Norwich was the first woman, as far as we know, to write in English. Her exquisite book Revelations of Divine Love is known and loved by many, but her own story remains something of a mystery.

Julian is the subject of Claire Gilbert’s research and forthcoming book Restoring Porosity: Julian of Norwich and Ecological Consciousness, but when Claire was diagnosed with cancer Julian ceased to be an academic object and became Claire's spiritual companion through two and a half years of gruelling treatment. As the treatment drew to a close, Claire heard what she describes as a call to tell Julian’s story in the first person, in homage to her.

The fictional autobiography I, Julian, published with unexpectedly appropriate timing at the 650th anniversary of Julian’s May 1373 visions, was the result. At this event, Claire spoke about her own ‘vision’ of Julian’s life, which was lived in times as turbulent as our own, and read from her novel. A.N. Wilson and Janet Soskice responded.

A recording of the talk is available on our College YouTube channel.