Margery Kempe, born c.1373, was of a well-to-do middle-class family from King's Lynn in
Norfolk. Married at twenty, she had a vision of Christ in her madness following her first
childbirth, and after early failures as a businesswoman, felt herself called to the
spiritual life. At about the age of fourty, after she had born fourteen children, she
persuaded her husband to a vow of chastity and began a pilgrimage across England, Europe and
the Holy Land. She was a controversial figure and was often nearly burnt at the stake as a
heretic. Towards the end of her life she dictated an account of her travels and visions,
which was discovered in 1934. It is the earliest example of an autobiography in English.