Advisory Board

John Adams
Jennifer N. Brown
Vincent Gillespie
Catherine Annette Grisé
Ann M. Hutchison
Eddie Jones
Sue Powell
Michael Sargent


Vincent Gillespie is J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall. He works on catechetical, devotional and contemplative texts produced in England in the Middle Ages. He is also interested in medieval literary theory and the psychology of literary response. Recent work has focused on Syon Abbey, and in particular on the books and spirituality of the brethren. His edition of the brethren’s library registrum was published in 2001 as part of the Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues. He is currently working on Reverend History: The Brethren of Syon and the Religious Culture of Later Medieval England,a monograph extending his research and including extensive use of unedited materials. A selection of his articles will be published in 2011 as Looking in Holy Books: Essays on Late-Medieval Religious Writing in England (Brepols). He is co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Mysticism (forthcoming 2011) and of After Arundel: Religious Writing in Fifteenth-Century England (forthcoming 2011/12). He is currently editing A Companion to Early Printing in Britain with Susan Powell for Boydell and Brewer, and Editing Medieval texts from England in the Twenty-First Century with Anne Hudson for Brepols. He was the 2009-10 Distinguished Visiting Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.

Catherine Annette Grisé  is Associate Professor of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. Her research interests in fifteenth century women’s writing and reading in England began with a PhD thesis on Middle English manuscripts written for the nuns at Syon Abbey. Since then she has researched the cult of the continental female mystics in latemedieval England, publishing articles on Catherine of Siena as well as on Middle English extracts and manuscripts containing holy women such as Catherine, Birgitta of Sweden, and Mechthild of Hackeborn: her chapter on Catherine of Siena is forthcoming in the Palgrave History of British Women’s Writing, 700-1500, ed. by Liz Herbert McAvoy and Diane Watt. She also works on the printed texts associated with Syon and written by Syon brothers, having recently written essays for Syon Abbey and Its Books, c.1400-1700 and the forthcoming proceedings of the After Arundel conference at Oxford. In addition, she wrote a chapter on fifteenth-century women’s poetry for the Blackwell Companion to Medieval Poetry. Her favorite conferences are the Exeter Symposia at Charney Manor and the Medieval Translator.

Ann M. Hutchison is a member of the English Department of Glendon College, York University, Toronto, Canada, and an Associate Fellow of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. This current year (2010- 11), she is on sabbatical in Oxford, where she is working on her edition of The Myroure of oure Ladye, a translation and explanation of the service of the sisters made not long after the founding of Syon Abbey by one of the brothers. Her initial interest in Syon Abbey stemmed from research on women’s literacy and late medieval spirituality, which led her to St Birgitta and her Order. In “What the Nuns Read: Literary Evidence from the English Bridgettine House, Syon Abbey” (Mediaeval Studies, 57 [1995], 205-222), she noted that a number of the Choir Sisters read Latin as well as vernacular texts. Much of her subsequent work on Syon has been concerned with their books and reading. She has also edited the Life of Marie Champney, a post-Dissolution nun, whodied in London in 1580. Her most recent work is on “Gifting and Circulation of Devotional Works in Syon Abbey and Its Community,” for a Colloquium on Book Gifts and Cultural Networks from the 14th to the 16th Century at Münster and eventual publication. She tries to visit Syon Abbey when she is in England, and this August spent a delightful afternoon with Lady Abbess, and Sisters M. Julie and M. Bridget. In May she was invited to the beautiful Birgittine Priory in Oregon, where the brothers were wonderfully welcoming and generous, and while there, she gave two talks. Next spring she hopes to return to Vadstena.

Eddie Jones is Senior Lecturer in English Medieval Literature and Culture at the University of Exeter, UK. He works on late-medieval religious culture, with a particular interest in the “semi-religious” or “non-regular vocations:” hermits, anchorites, vowesses, the “mixed life.” His doctoral thesis and first book was an edition of part of the devotional compilation and spiritual vade mecum Disce Mori (Middle English Texts 36, Heidelberg, 2006), probably written for a vowess or anchoress connected with Syon. In 2005 he organized, with Alex Walsham, a symposium on “Syon Abbey and its Books,”  to honor the 2004 deposition of Syon’s remaining medieval books for safe-keeping in the University of Exeter Library. An edited volume arising from that conference has now appeared, titled Syon Abbey and its Books: Reading, writing and religion c.1400-1700 (The Boydell Press, 2010). Away from Syon (though never very far away), he is organizer and editor of the Exeter Symposia on the Medieval Mystical Tradition in England (most recent volume 2004; the next symposium takes place in July 2011), and is engaged in a long-term project to revise Rotha Clay’s Hermits and Anchorites of England (see

Sue Powell holds a Chair in Medieval Texts and Culture at the University of Salford, UK. She teaches Old and Middle English and the history of the English language. Her publications include two editions in the Middle English Texts series (nos. 13, 37), co-edited books with Jeremy Smith (New Perspectives, D.S. Brewer) and Oliver Pickering (IMEP York, D.S. Brewer), and over forty articles, apart from reviews. Volume 1 of her edition of John Mirk’s Festial has just been published by the Early English Text Society (OS 334); volume 2 (OS 335) is due March 2011. She is currently working (with James W. Girsch) on a critical edition and translation of the late fourteenth-century Manuale Sacerdotis. Her project to edit selected household accounts and inventories of Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, for the British Academy Records of Social and Economic History is also in progress. In relation to Syon, she has published “Syon, Caxton, and the Festial,” Birgittiana 2 (1996), 187-207; “Preaching at Syon Abbey,” Leeds Studies in English, n.s. 31 (2000), 229-67; “Margaret Pole and Syon Abbey,” Historical Research 78 (2005), 563-7; “Syon Abbey and the Mother of King Henry VII: The Relationship of Lady Margaret Beaufort with the English Birgittines,” Birgittiana 19 (2005), 211-24; “Syon Abbey as a Centre for Text Production,” in Saint Birgitta, Syon and Vadstena (reviewed in this volume). In progress is a five-chapter monograph, The Bridgettines of Syon: Preaching and Print, to be published in the Texts and Transitions series (Brepols).

Michael Sargent teaches in the English Department of Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY), and in the doctoral program in English at the CUNY Graduate Center. He did his graduate work in the University of Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies; his thesis on the manuscript annotations of a late medieval Carthusian monk, “James Grenehalgh as Textual Critic” was done under the direction of Fr. Edmund Colledge. It was in the course of doing this work that he first examined the annotations which Greenahalgh, then a monk at  Sheen, made for the spiritual profit of fellow reader Joanna Sewell, a nun at Syon. Having thus become fascinated by the intertwined histories of Sheen Charterhouse and the Birgittine house of Syon, Sargent continued to work, primarily, on the history and writers of the Carthusian Order, working with James Hogg on a series of fascicles of semi-diplomatic transcripts of the manuscripts of the cartae of the annual General Chapter (Analecta Cartusiana vol. 100, nos. 1-10), and producing the full, critical edition of Nicholas Love’s Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ in 2005 (University of Exeter Press), among many other editions, articles and book chapters. He is at present working toward the completion of the critical edition for the Early English Text Society of The Scale of Perfection begun by A.J. Bliss (Book I) and S.S. Hussey (Book II).

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