The anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing
Our first mentors in life were women, including our mothers, grandmothers, and teachers. These women were, for the most part, overlooked, unsung heroes. In a similar way, the anonymous author of the 14th-century spiritual classic, The Cloud of Unknowing has been mostly overlooked and unsung. During the five years I spent translating The Cloud, a text written in Middle English, I became more intimately acquainted with the anonymous author. It is my conviction the author was a woman, who served as a spiritual mother and director to the original readers. Though no one truly knows who the anonymous author was, there is sufficient textual and historical evidence to support female authorship. Like the many women from our childhood who made a big impact in our lives but are easily overlooked, this author has made a profound impact upon the spiritual lives of millions of readers over the centuries. If the author was a woman, she had little hope of ever having her work published or read by a wider audience. Yet this anonymous book has endured across six centuries, still transforming lives with down-to-earth grace, practical spiritual guidance, and heavenly wisdom. If the original author was a woman, she was the first woman author in the English language. Cloud Devotion celebrates not only a classic devotional book from the 14th century, but also the personhood of the overlooked author, a person I believe to be a woman full of wisdom, grace, and spiritual vision.
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