The Yorkshireman Richard Rolle (c. 1300-1349) was the first and most immediately influential of the English medieval mystics. His writings, including the Latin, remain extant in more than four hundred manuscripts, mainly of the fifteenth century. His passionate insistence on an personal communion between Creator and created was to affect the development of pre-Reformation religious thought, and his ultimate choice of English as the vehicle in which to express his teaching, at a time when it was still a secondary language, rekindled in a modern idiom the tradition of vernacular devotional prose. This is the first full critical edition of Rolle's major English writings, excepting only his glossed Psalter. Although the manuscript chosen as a base text is not in the original Northern dialect, it is of sufficient authority to restore many readings hitherto lost or corrupt, and its inclusion of two texts outside the established canon suggests that this should now be reappraised. The introduction extends the researches of H. E. Allen on Rolle manuscripts, discusses their relationships, and examines methods of textual transmission.
In the notes, much of Rolle's possible source material is cited, and the edition concludes with a select glossary.