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News: Book contract - Prize roundtables - Buffalo lecture

Update about the trade book I am writing as an output from my NFR grant on the influence of St. Birgitta of Sweden in late-medieval England! I am delighted to have signed a book contract with The History Press, the UK’s largest dedicated history publisher, publishing more 200 books annually over their national and local titles. Visionary: The Woman Who Changed Medieval England will come out with them in the UK in 2026 with US and international/translation rights to follow. Many thanks to literary agent Clare Grist Taylor at the Accidental Agency and THP editor Claire Hopkins for making this happen.

My book fits in very well with the History Press’ strengths in ‘Women in History’ and medieval titles. We’ve agreed on a hearty number of illustrations and when the time comes, I’m excited to see a cover as snappy as their recent ones. Here’s a preliminary blurb to whet your appetite:

Meet Birgitta of Sweden: the most famous woman writer no-one has heard of.
Who would believe that late-medieval England’s most famous woman writer was a fourteenth-century Swedish saint? But the more than 700 Revelations Birgitta documented over the course of her lifetime were to take England by storm, inspiring the likes of Margery Kempe and transforming how the English understood women and power. Yet despite her fame, Birgitta never fitted established ideas about authorship and literary history. Her story has been all but forgotten – until now.
In VISIONARY, Laura Saetveit Miles explores the life and work of this extraordinary wife, mother, activist and holy woman, taking us into the archives to share the precious manuscripts preserving Birgitta’s texts and charting her influence through the eyes of eight medieval English men and women who became some of her biggest fans, including the theologian cardinal, Adam Easton; the blind poet, John Audelay; Margaret Beaufort, mother to Henry VII, and a prophesying housemaid called Elizabeth Barton.
Their love of Birgitta reveals what the saint meant to a nation, the remarkable range of her influence and why we should remember – and celebrate - her legacy today.


Prize Roundtables for The Virgin Mary's Book at the Annunciation

In 2023 my academic monograph The Virgin Mary's Book at the Annunciation: Reading, Interpretation, and Devotion in Medieval England (D.S. Brewer, 2020) won the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship's Best First Book in Medieval Feminist Studies Award. This means that SMFS organized a roundtable in honor of the book at the world's two largest medieval conferences: the upcoming Leeds International Medieval Congress, and the just past Kalamazoo International Medieval Congress.

The Leeds roundtable is happening next Wednesday 3 July - don't miss it if you're planning on attending the conference! The line-up is spectacular and I am honored and delighted SMFS put this together.

From the conference event website:

  • Organized by Kathryn Maude (The National Archivees, Kew)

  • This round table celebrates Laura Saetveit Miles' book The Virgin Mary's Book at the Annunciation: Reading, Interpretation, and Devotion in Medieval England, the winner of the SMFS Best First Book in Medieval Feminist Studies Award 2022. The book argues that Mary's reading at the Annunciation provided a sophisticated model of reading and interpretation that was foundational to devotional practices across all spectrums of society in medieval England. The round table invites responses to Miles' groundbreaking work in order to honour its contribution to medieval feminist scholarship.

  • Participants include:

    • Godelinde Perk (Tampere University)

    • Ryan Perry (University of Kent)

    • Miri Rubin (Queen Mary University of London)

    • Päivi Salmesvuori (Åbo Akademi University)

    • Katherine Smith (University of Oxford)

I hope to see you there!

Meanwhile back in May a parallel roundtable was held at Kalamazoo, with equally brilliant participants:

  • Michelle Karnes, Univ. of Notre Dame

  • Georgiana Donavin, Westminster University

  • Elizabeth Robertson, University of Glasgow


Public Outreach Lecture in Buffalo, NY, 14 July 2024

In just a few weeks I will be delivering a lecture in the Case Library Conversation Series, at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Buffalo NY. The lecture will be on Sunday 14 July at 10am just before the service. The title will be:

St. Birgitta of Sweden: Medieval England’s Favorite Female Author?

St. Birgitta of Sweden (1303-1373) was a visionary, activist, reformer, and author -- as well as an aristocrat, wife, and mother. What made her and her enormous Revelations so popular all the way over in medieval England, and could she even rank as the country’s most favorite female author for the 150 years from 1390-1540?

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