MICHELLE P. BROWN is Professor Emerita of Medieval Manuscript Studies at the Universiy of London (School of Advanced Study) and is a Visiting Professor at University College London. She was formerly the Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library and has written some 34 books, curated major exhibitions and broadcasts widely.
Medieval queens and abbesses commissioned intricately illuminated books and published their own texts, from poetry to political and scientific treatises. The Anglo-Saxon queen Emma gave stunningly beautiful manuscripts as gifts in her power-play and published her own account of events for which she was imprisoned. Abbess Hildegard of Bingen had her works on music and medicine copied in her scriptorium. Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and the poetess Marie de France patronised the troubadours and gave birth to courtly love. The adventuress and mystic Margery Kempe dictated her travellers’ tales. The young widow, Christine de Pisan, set up her own desktop publishing enterprise to earn a living and in the process took on the Parisian university authorities and her male peers. Female artists painted cutting satire in the margins of manuscripts, whilst others were its subjects.