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Julian of Norwich: A Very Brief History

(Very Brief Histories)

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  152 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Over six hundred years ago a woman known as Julian of Norwich wrote what is now regarded as one of the greatest works of literature in English. Based on a sequence of mystical visions she received in 1373, her book is called Revelations of Divine Love.

Julian lived through an age of political and religious turmoil, as well as through the misery of the Black Death, and her w
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published October 1st 2016 by SPCK Publishing
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Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In this short book about Julian's life, Janina Ramirez carefully describes the context in which the 'Revelations' were written. 14th century England was going through a period of immense social, political and religious turmoil, as was much of Western Europe. Julian was born in 1343, the same year as Geoffrey Chaucer. She experienced plagues and famine, a local uprising related to the Peasants' Revolt, the Hundred Years War was in progress which directly affected Norwich as traders avoided Channe ...more
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-arc
I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review via Netgalley.

This is not normally a book I'd choose, despite reading a lot of history and biographies. However, I like to challenge myself and when I heard about this book I wanted to try it.

I actually enjoyed it, though I'm rather glad it is a slim volume. We're introduced to Julian of Norwich, a religious woman who wrote, in the fourteenth century Revelations of Divine Love.

I found it difficult to understand how someone would want
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Concise, well-researched, clearly and accessibly written, this “brief” history of Julian of Norwich is an excellent introduction to the woman and her writings. Ramirez places her in her time and place and explores the background events of this turbulent time in the Middle Ages. She follows the history of the manuscript itself, and makes clear just why someone would want to be an anchoress – a life that I now realise wasn’t one of complete isolation. Enjoyable and informative.
Marcus Hobson
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book does what it says in the cover, giving a "very brief history" of the English woman Julian of Norwich. What it also does is to make you want to read more and learn more about the time she lives.
There are so many interesting threads in Dr Janina Ramirez's book, that you could easily end up buying another four books to follow the story. Most of all you want to read Julian's actual writing, called "Revelations of Divine Love" but then you want to read instructions for being an anchoress. S
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lovely, short, well-written introduction to Julian of Norwich and life as she knew it. An excellent companion to Ramirez's programme on the publication of "Revelations of Divine Love" and Julian's life. ...more
Paul Dickson
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Excellent introduction to Julian of Norwich
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Oct 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2016
Wanted to like this quite a bit more than I did.

1) Concise, as the title promises, and covers the fundamentals. Solid intro.
2) Ramirez's writing style is mostly engaging and her prose steers clear of academic turgidity.
3) Intrinsically fascinating subject (for me at least).

1) 1a) Unfortunately Ramirez's book is let down by poor editing. She writes, for example, that "Her use of repetition, particularly in patterns of three, are perhaps self-taught..." which should be "is/was" not "ar
Book received from NetGalley.

The first time I had ever heard about Julian of Norwich was in my first British Literature class and I was fascinated by her. Her "Revelations of a Divine Love" are the earliest known surviving by a female writer. As soon as I saw this offered on NetGalley I requested it hoping to learn a bit more about this unique nun. Since Julian of Norwich lived in the Medieval era there is very little that can be found out about her life, prior to her becoming an anchoress. The
Katrin V
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a Slightly Foxed recommendation. I am intimidated by Julian of Norwich's writing so was delighted to hear of this VERY BRIEF history. It was an excellent introduction with a few superb quotes. From page 64:
" When she describes how, in the fifth revelation, she saw evil incarnate in the devil, and how it was
rendered redundant by the Passion of Christ, she describes laughing:
'At the sight of this I laughed heartily, and that made those who were around me to laugh,
and their laughter w
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Although there are some editorial oversights, I found this book to be a compelling and informative introduction to Julian of Norwich, as well as some background info about medieval England. I actually bought it as a gift for my mum as we are visiting St. Julian's in Norwich in February, and I wanted to check that it was written from a historical perspective rather than a religious one since she isn't religious. It would definitely appeal to Christians and non-Christians, and at less than 100 pag ...more
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Less than 100 pages, this is worth the read if you are interested in having a little more historical context about Julian of Norwich. In the 14th Century, at the age of 30, she received 16 revelations from God which she recorded in a small manuscript called Revelations of Divine Love. Given the treatment of women, particularly those who received visions, it is a miracle that much is known about her. This is one of Julian's famous quotes, "all shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of t ...more
A good entry level book into the life of the 14th century mystic, Julian of Norwich. A woman of obscure origins, who, have what is described today as a "near death experience" goes on to write an account (Revelations of Divine Love) of what was spiritually revealed to her during this time - the first ever book written by an Englishwoman.

Ramirez's book deals with the history and the legacy, which lasted generations after her death.
Charlie Beare
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was absolutely fantastic. This book opened my eyes and made me think of so many things that I never considered in my day to day life. It’s a a very well written book that explains the the key part of Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love in a lucid and comprehensive way whilst still keeping that essence of Julian. I recommend this book to everybody. It duh a brilliant and worthwhile read. Thank you Dr Janina Ramirez for opening my mind to so many incredible thought!
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An truly excellent book

Dr Ramirez is one of my favourite academics and authors, and this short introduction to Julian is a compact, but still noteworthy contribution. Her writing flows well, and is accessible, but still scholarly.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't wait to read The private life of saints!!
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, medieval, owned
It didn't actually take me as long as it appears, I read the book in two sittings, and on th second I've questioned why it took me so long to pick back up. Ramirez provides a fantastic "brief history" to Julian's story, it is engaging and thought provoking. A book I would recommend to anyone with an interest in the fourteenth century world. ...more
Holly Cruise
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, biography
It's brief. It's a good introduction and I do now want to know more about both Julian and her writings (and especially the theological debate around her work both at the time, during the Reformation and now) which is a good sign with an introductory text. But also I can't give it more than 3 stars because it is so brief. But a good short read. ...more
Angela Scott
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good introduction

The author sets the medieval scene and context in which Julian lived and wrote down her visions. This short book is a very engaging read. There is a helpful Further Reading section to get stuck into. Plenty of suggestions and descriptions of the different translations to choose from. The inclusion of photos at the end was a lovely touch to end on.
James Kinsley
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Concise, informative, straightforwardly presented, this is a great introduction/background/commentary to Julian of Norwich and her Revelations Of Divine Love. The perfect companion piece to that wonderful, mystical text.
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book, written with warmth as well as knowledge, perfect.
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, really clear and easy to digest. Great introduction to Julian of Norwich.
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Short and solid but rather repetitive in places.
Jonathan Burdett
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read this before hearing that in certain theological circles, Julian of Norwich is coming back into fashion. A very good primer before reading the Julian herself.
Judy Ford
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. It's interesting to see how Julian's revelations fit in with global events of the time, such as the Black Death and the hundred years' war. ...more
Catherine Kestle
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
A very thought provoking book
James Miller
Feb 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this study of Julian and learned much from it. I was disappointing though to find that I finished not very much enlightened about what exactly happened in each vision. I had a look at Wikipedia and found:

The Crown of Thorns and God's love for all that is made — the hazelnut
The face of Jesus on the Cross
All creation is in God's wise care
The scourging of Jesus, and the spilling of his blood
The evil one defeated by the cross
God's gifts of thanks to those who serve him
God comforts those wh
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fabulously passionate like Janina herself- makes me want to read Julian's book ...more
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."

When I received this ARC I moved beyond a person who found comfort in Julian of Norwich's writings to a more enlightened understanding of her work and life. What remains unknown, was much of her early life, and even exactly what, and how, her work came to be preserved over centuries.

The Protestant Reformation in England did not destroy this or rather these writings. This potentially dangerous work or works survived. H
Jo-anne Atkinson
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Julian of Norwich is a mystery woman, little is known about who she was and her life prior to her giving her life to God and writing. Julian is most famous for her 'Divine Revelations', a series of writings inspired by a set of visions Julian had in the mid-1300s. The beauty of her writing has inspired many.

This is a very short book but is very satisfying for that. Ramirez places Julian's life and writings in the context of the Middle Ages and the town of Norwich - a prosperous place but one tha
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An engaging and highly accessible insight into the life, times and work of this fascinating historical figure. I sped through it in a couple of days and was enthralled not just by the content, but also by Ramirez's captivating prose and masterful handling of the topic. I cannot stop recommending it to customers while at work in the shop and have created a display in our 'religion' section promoting it. It's just so great! ...more
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received an advanced copy of this book through Net galley.

I have never heard of Julian of Norwich before reading this book. I found it very enlightening in what life was like in the Middle Ages for these type of people.
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Janina Sara María Ramírez (née Maleczek; 7 July 1980), sometimes credited as Nina Ramírez, is a British art and cultural historian and TV presenter, based in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. She specialises in interpreting symbols and examining works of art, within their own historical context.

Ramírez went to school in Slough. She gained a degree in English literature, specialising in Old and Middle Englis

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