Welcome to Wednesday Writers!
Today I’m hosting Gail Kittleson on Wednesday Writers. Gail is a historical romance author, who writes about WWII. Her Women of the Heartland, World War II series, highlights women of The Greatest Generation. Today she’s taking us on a side trip to talk about the first English woman to write a book. You’ll want keep reading, because it’s not who you think it is. Welcome, Gail!
By Gail Kittleson
Preparing for a recent fortieth anniversary trip to England, I re-discovered Julian of Norwich, who died in 1417. Before that, if you’d asked me to name the first English woman who wrote a book, I might have said Jane Austen. But long before Jane left her mark, Julian of Norwich left hers.
Julian became well known in England, and people flocked to her cell for spiritual advice. She was called “Renewer of the Church.” Her meditations, The Revelations of Divine Love, set forth eternal, all-embracing divine love.
Well known in England during this era of widespread epidemics, people looked to Julian for reassurance. Many monks taught that disease signified God’s angry punishment, while Julian wrote of a loving, even motherly God intent on creation’s good.
She viewed the Creator of all with a tiny object in his hand, like a small brown nut, so fragile and insignificant that she wondered why it even held together. The nut stood for the entire created universe, yet Julian heard this message with her vision: “God made it, God loves it, and God keeps it.”
She wrestled with the difficult moral decisions humans face. Sometimes we feel that no matter what, we act from impure motives, and can defend no decision. Finally, Julian concluded: “It is enough to be sure of the deed. Our courteous Lord will deign to redeem the motive.”
I’d guess the monks of Julian’s day weren’t exactly delighted with her theology—human nature conjures images of the Divine patterned after our own shortcomings. Negativity surely fits that label, as does a tendency to feel hopelessly incapable of acting with wisdom in this world.
As writers, we can certainly identify. But common people resonated to Julian’s perspective from the cell where she confined herself after undergoing a burial rite to signify her death to this world.
How wonderful to come to a point where with her, we say, “It is enough to do something (i.e., to write), led by my best instincts and thinking process. If I err, I fall upon the courtesy of our Lord.”
About the Author:
Gail taught college writing before becoming a late-blooming novelist, and now has four published novels celebrating WWII women, and a memoir.
When Gail’s not steeped in research, drafting scenes, or editing, she facilitates writing workshops and retreats in Iowa and Arizona, where winters find her enjoying the gorgeous Mogollon Rim. Favorites: grandchildren, exploring WWII sites with her husband, walking, reading, meeting new people, and hearing from readers who fall in love with her characters.
You can find Gail’s books on Amazon
You can connect with Gail at