Book Review: Jane Lead and her Transnational Legacy

Jane Lead and the Philadelphian Society are not particularly well known figures to most scholars of late 17th- and early 18th-century religion. Born in 1624, Lead experienced a spiritual awakening aged 16. On Christmas Day 1640, while her family danced and celebrated, she was overwhelmed with a ‘beam of Godly light’ and a gentle inner voice offering spiritual guidance. After the death of her husband in 1670 she received daily spiritual outpourings, finding comfort in…

Continue Reading →

Conference Report: Reformation Studies Colloquium, Newcastle, 14-16 September 2016

The Reformation Studies Colloquium took place in Newcastle between Wednesday 14th and Friday 16th September. The event was well attended and featured speakers from a variety of countries. I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy all three days of the conference without the looming threat of admin and the start of the new academic year, and was thus able to enjoy a whole range of papers and panels. The first panel I attended…

Continue Reading →

Who wrote ‘The Book of Margery Kempe’?

The Book of Margery Kempe is undoubtedly one of the most important surviving pieces of medieval English literature. It allows us insight into a multitude of different issues: gender roles, marital relations, female authority, Lollardy, pilgrimage, fasting, the hazards of travel and contested visionary experience, to name just a few. Yet until the twentieth century very little was known about it at all. Small extracts from the Book were printed in 1501 and 1521, but…

Continue Reading →

Book Review: Elizabeth Bouldin, Women Prophets and Radical Protestantism in the British Atlantic World, 1640–1730

Elizabeth Bouldin has written a lively, accessible and clear account of an often overlooked aspect of seventeenth-century religious history. Scholars interested in female visionary experience in England are often drawn to medieval figures such as Christina of Markyate, Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe, the Reformation visionary Elizabeth Barton, or modern figures such as Joanna Southcott. The major strength of Bouldin’s monograph is the way it illuminates the messages of lesser-known visionary women: Baptists such…

Continue Reading →

The Theosophical Transactions of the Philadelphians (No. 1)

The Theosophical Transactions, or Acta Philadelphica, were a series of five small memoirs published by the Philadelphian Society between March and November 1697. Edited by leaders of the group, Richard Roach and Francis Lee, they were intended to be circulated amongst members to inform them of religious occurrences and newly published works. They were published in London and sold for one shilling. Surviving copies of the Transactions in England are rare; the Bodleian Library in…

Continue Reading →