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  • Hodder & Stoughton

I, Julian: The fictional autobiography of Julian of Norwich

Claire Gilbert

8 Reviews

Rated 0

c 1000 CE to c 1500, Historical fiction, Christianity, Religious & spiritual leaders

The stunning retelling of Julian of Norwich's story, the first woman to write a book in the English language

'I was completely hooked and considerably moved by the life and thoughts of this exceptional woman'
- JEREMY IRONS

'It is as if we have finally found the lost autobiography of one of the medieval world's most important women.'

- JANINA RAMIREZ

'A beautiful, intensely moving achievement'

- A.N. WILSON
In 1347, the first pestilence rages across the land. The young Julian of Norwich encounters the strangeness of death: first her father, then later her husband and her child. When she falls ill herself, she encounters mystical visions that bring comfort and concern. But in the midst of suspicion and menace, when the Church is actively condemning heretics, Julian is not safe.

I, Julian is the account of a medieval woman who dares to tell her own story.

Battling grief, plague, the church and societal expectations, and compelled by her powerful visions, Julian finds a way to live a life of freedom - as an anchoress, bricked up in a small room on the side of a church. Helped by Thomas, a Benedictine monk from Norwich Cathedral, she writers of what she has seen and offers word of counsel to others. Julian's manuscripts are protected by trusted sisters and are passed from hand to hand, become the first book to be written by a woman in English.

'So I will write in English, pressing new words from this beautiful plain language spoken by all. Not courtly French to introduce God politely. Not church Latin to construct arguments. English to show it as it is. Even though it is not safe to do so.'

Tender, luminous, meditative and powerful, Julian writes of her love for God, and God's love for the whole of creation. 'All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.'

'Written with profound insight, spiritual and psychological, and a rare sensitivity to the everyday world of the fourteenth century, I, Julian is a brilliantly illuminating companion to one of the greatest works of spiritual writing in English.' Rowan Williams, Magdalene College, Cambridge University


I, Julian won an Award of Merit in the Fiction Category in the Christianity Today awards, 2023, and was a finalist in the Religious Fiction category of the 2023 International Book Awards.

The cover design for I, Julian won an ECPA Top Shelf award in 2023.

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Praise for I, Julian: The fictional autobiography of Julian of Norwich

  • What a wonderful book! It is as if we have finally found the lost autobiography of one of the medieval world's most important women. Julian's voice rings out true on every page and a deep understanding of her world and her work underpins each line. It is a joy to read. - Janina Ramirez, historian, author and broadcaster, Oxford University

  • There have been a few other writers who have tried to fill out the human hinterland of Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love?, but I can't think of any who have done so quite as persuasively and richly as this. Written with profound insight, spiritual and psychological, and a rare sensitivity to the everyday world of the fourteenth century, it is a brilliantly illuminating companion to one of the greatest works of spiritual writing in English. - Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge

  • I was completely hooked and considerably moved by the life and thoughts of this exceptional woman

  • Claire Gilbert inhabits Julian of Norwich in the way that Hilary Mantel immersed herself in Cromwell. This is living fiction.

  • . . . extraordinarily deft and sensitive. This book is going to introduce many new readers to Julian and inspire others who know her slightly to go back with fresh eyes and a reinvigorated sense of how her writing developed and in what sort of historical setting. It really is a striking book, and an impressive achievement.

  • I, Julian, is a tour de force, a rich reimagining of the life of Julian of Norwich and a disturbing evocation of the life of the merchant class in Norwich in the fourteenth century

  • This is a rich and intriguing book, which is profoundly thought-provoking and helps the reader to get to know Julian in an entirely new way

  • both gripping and profoundly believable

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