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  • Living reference work
  • © 2022

The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Medieval Women's Writing in the Global Middle Ages

Palgrave Macmillan
  • First encyclopedia to focus on women’s writing in this period

  • Entries explore medieval women’s writing globally

  • Encompasses both writing and other forms of engagement with literary culture

  • 101 Accesses

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Table of contents (21 entries)

  1. Berhtgyth

    • Kathryn Maude
  2. Birth Amulets

    • Róisín Donohoe
  3. Christina of Markyate

    • Christiania Whitehead
  4. Convent Drama

    • Aurélie Blanc
  5. Early Latin Women Poets

    • Kathryn Maude
  6. English Drama

    • Eleanor Bloomfield
  7. Greene, Belle da Costa

    • Tarrell R. Campbell
  8. Gwerful Mechain

    • Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan
  9. Hildegard of Bingen

    • Hannah Victoria
  10. Janabai

    • Nitya Pawar
  11. Joan of Arc

    • Leona Archer
  12. Karaikkal Ammaiyar

    • Karen Pechilis
  13. Kempe, Margery

    • Millicent-Rose Newis
  14. Marie de France

    • Amy Louise Morgan
  15. Mira Bai

    • Nancy M. Martin
  16. Nazhūn

    • Enass Khansa

About this book

This is the first encyclopedia devoted exclusively to medieval women’s writing. Focusing on the thousand-year period between 500-1500, this comprehensive reference work addresses a long-standing gap in scholarship on women writers from this period. It challenges current understandings of the literary tradition of women by incorporating early writers and texts that remain marginal and by expanding definitions of textual composition to include more collaborative activities. Entries extend beyond works written in England, Scotland and Wales to include works by women from Europe, Africa and Asia. By locating medieval women’s writing within its cultural, social, religious and political contexts, The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Medieval Women’s Writing will be an ideal entry point for students and researchers coming into the field.


  • Middle Ages
  • Women writers
  • 500-1500
  • Canon
  • Literary culture
  • Religious writing
  • Political writing
  • Patronage
  • Devotional writing
  • Literature
  • Drama
  • Poetry
  • Europe
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • India
  • Medievalists

Editors and Affiliations

  • Department of English, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, USA

    Michelle M. Sauer

  • School of Literature & Languages, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom

    Diane Watt

  • College of Arts & Humanities, Swansea University, Mumbles Swansea, United Kingdom

    Liz Herbert McAvoy

About the editors

Michelle M. Sauer is Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of English and Gender Studies at the University of North Dakota, USA, where she teaches a wide range of medieval language and literature as well as linguistics. She specializes in Middle English language and literature, especially women’s early Christian devotional literature and monastic texts, and publishes regularly on anchoritism, mysticism, asceticism, hagiography, queer/gender theory, spatial theory, monasticism, and the history of Christianity, and so is well-versed in many of the areas the Encyclopedia will cover. Her publications include the books Gender in Medieval Culture (Bloomsbury, 2015), The Materiality of Anchoritic Devotion (ARC Humanities, 2021, with Jenny C. Bledsoe), Celebrating St Albert & His Rule: Rules, Devotion, Orthodoxy, & Dissent (Edizioni Carmelitane, 2018, with Kevin Alban), The Lesbian Premodern (Palgrave, 2011, with Diane Watt and Noreen Giffney), How to Write about Chaucer (Chelsea House, 2009), and The Companion to Pre-1600 British Poetry (Facts on File, 2008), as well as numerous articles. Current projects include a monograph on solitary/auto sexuality, The Companion to Sexuality in the Medieval West (ARC Humanities), and an extended piece on scribal traditions and the manuscripts of St. Birgitta, as well as several collections based on anchoritic conferences in collaboration with other scholars, including Liz Herbert McAvoy.

Diane Watt is Professor of Medieval English Literature at the University of Surrey, UK. She is the author of Secretaries of God: Women Prophets in Late Medieval and Early Modern England (D.S. Brewer, 1997), Amoral Gower: Languages, Sex and Politics (University of Minnesota Press, 2003), Medieval Women’s Writing: Works By and For Women (Polity, 2007), and the editor of The Paston Women: Selected Letters (Boydell and Brewer, 2004). She has published widely in the areas of both early and late medieval English Literature, women’s writing, gender, and sexuality. She has edited and co-edited several volumes, including The Lesbian Premodern (Palgrave, 2011), with Noreen Giffney and Michelle M. Sauer, and The History of British Women’s Writing, 700-1500 (Palgrave, 2012), with Liz Herbert McAvoy. She is currently working on a book entitled God’s Own Gentlewoman: The Life of Margaret Paston which will be published with Icon Books, and co-editing with Corinne Saunders a volume entitled Women and Medieval Literary Culture from the Early Middle Ages to the Fifteenth Century, forthcoming with Cambridge University Press.

Liz Herbert McAvoy is Professor Emerita of Medieval Literature at Swansea University, UK and Honorary Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Bristol. She is author of Authority and the Female Body in the Writing of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe (D. S. Brewer, 2003), Medieval Anchoritisms: Gender, Space and the Anchoritic Life (D. S. Brewer, 2011), and has edited The Book of Margery Kempe: An abridged translation (D.S. Brewer, 2004) and A Revelation of Purgatory (D. S. Brewer, 2017). As well as a number of journal Special Issues, she has edited and co-edited a wide range of volumes, including (with Mari Hughes-Edwards), Anchorites, Wombs and Tombs: Intersections of Gender and Enclosure in the Middle Ages (University of Wales Press, 2005), Rhetoric of the Anchorhold: Space, Place and Body in the Discourses of Enclosure (University of Wales Press, 2008); A Companion to Julian of Norwich (D. S. Brewer, 2008);  Anchoritic Traditions of Medieval Europe (The Boydell Press, 2010), and The History of British Women’s Writing, 700-1500 (Palgrave, 2012). She has a long history of successful collaboration with the two other Editors-in-Chief of this present project and was a network partner in the Women’s Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, and run by Diane Watt. She has also recently published her third monograph (funded by the Leverhulme Trust), entitled: The Enclosed Garden and the Medieval Religious Imaginary (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2021).

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Medieval Women's Writing in the Global Middle Ages

  • Editors: Michelle M. Sauer, Diane Watt, Liz Herbert McAvoy

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Springer Reference Literature, Cultural & Media Studies, Reference Module Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Number of Illustrations: 10 b/w illustrations, 10 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Medieval Literature, Women's History / History of Gender, World Literature, History of Religion