The University of Auckland
A growing interest in ideas of group identity, especially with regards to the development of nationhood, has seen some very interesting works on early English identity. However, women and their role in creation of ideas of identity have largely been ignored. This article attempts to redress this balance, by focusing on one of the early collections of saints’ lives found in Middle English, the South English Legendary.
Three Anglo-Saxon female saints’ lives are found in three of the extant manuscripts, and the lives are examined to see if the acts of identity performed through these texts are noticeably different from their male counterparts. The ownership and readership of the manuscripts are also briefly considered, in order to understand the impact of such lives on the audience.