Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections



Hope Emily Allen Papers - Preliminary Guide

Part I: Description

Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library
Collection Number: 16

Copyright 2000 by Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library

March 2000
Last Updated: January 24, 2018




Total Boxes: 7
Linear Feet: 10.50

Administrative Information



Ownership & Literary Rights

The Hope Emily Allen Papers are the physical property of the Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.

Cite as:

Hope Emily Allen Papers, Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library.

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.



HOPE EMILY ALLEN (1883-1960)

Hope Emily Allen, noteworthy medieval scholar, is best known for her research on the 14th century English mystic Richard Rolle and for her discovery of the Book of Margery Kempe. Born in Oneida, New York, Allen spent a great deal of her childhood there and later also lived in Niagara Falls, Canada. Allen completed her undergraduate studies at Bryn Mawr College in 1905 with special interests in the study of Middle English literary texts. The next year she completed graduate work, also at Bryn Mawr, in English literature and Greek, earning a master's degree. Allen had great concern for women's values and identity and continued to fight for these issues throughout her life. After Bryn Mawr, she went to Radcliffe to begin studying for her Ph.D, during which time she enrolled at Cambridge University in 1910 for a semester to study English literature. That semester was eventually elongated to a period of three years.

Allen's time in Britain in the early 1900s allowed her to make a great number of personal and academic associations, as well as experience European culture. During her time in England, she pursued her two lifelong goals: medieval scholarship and feminism. Allen described herself as an "independent scholar," and she never accepted an academic teaching appointment. This independence allowed her to research more freely, so that she could closely examine texts that had not received recognition before. Her writing falls into three overlapping groups: her early work on the Ancrene Riwle, her insight into the study of Richard Rolle, and her research on the cultural background of the Book of Margery Kempe. Themes in her work include the spirituality of women in the late Middle Ages (Ancrene Riwle), contradictions and impossibilities in the work of Richard Rolle, and ideas on the religious life of late-medieval women in the Book of Margery Kemp.

Allen later returned to the United States, living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she continued to pursue her research and writing. She eventually returned to her hometown of Oneida, New York, and spent the last years of her life at the Mansion House in Kentwood, where she died in 1960.

For more information, see: Hope Emily Allen: Medieval Scholarship and Feminism by John C. Hirsh. Norman, OK: Pilgrim Books, 1988.


The papers consist primarily of research notes by Allen, photostats and typescripts of manuscripts, and professional correspondence. Topics include the Book of Margery Kempe, the Ancrene Riwle,and Richard Rolle.

PART II: Box and Folder List

Processing and description by Miriam Spectre.



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Last Update: January 24, 2018 , Special Collections at