This early thirteenth-century West Midlands guide for women
recluses is not only one of the major works of early Middle English
prose, but is also a key document for the development of medieval
spirituality. It reflects the 'democratization' of religious
experience which was one of the outcomes of the 'Medieval
Reformation'. Drawing on new kinds of pastoral literature designed
to appeal to a more general audience, the insight, wit and charm of
Ancrene Wisse led to its adaptation for other readers, both
religious and lay, and it continued in use until the end of the
Middle Ages. This new annotated translation, based on the text in
Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 402, incorporates the most
recent research on Ancrene Wisse's contemporary context and offers
an accessible, up-to-date introduction for both scholars and
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