Mary of Egypt, a penitent prostitute and figure of female autonomy and authority, is a disconcerting and unconventional saint, especially in an Anglo-Saxon context. She is not the kind of model of idealized female virtue normally favoured by leading churchmen in Anglo-Saxon England, and yet her life occurs in the manuscript of Ælfric's Lives of Saints, probably the most influential vernacular collection of saints' lives of its period.
The story of Mary has been unduly neglected by students and teachers of Old English, but, with its gripping and intense narrative, it raises exciting issues in the study of medieval literature and culture, issues concerning gender, spirituality, cultural history and other current preoccupations.
This edition makes the Old English Life conveniently and authoritatively available to today's readers. The text is presented in an uncluttered manner with facing-page modern English translation and is accompanied by a detailed introduction and concise commentary and a full glossary. A text and facing-page translation of the Latin source used by the Old English writer are also given.