Author Claire Gilbert and actor Jeremy Irons put Julian of Norwich in the spotlight at Norwich Cathedral
21 April 2023
Author Claire Gilbert and actor Jeremy Irons will be putting the 14th century mystic and anchoress Julian of Norwich in the spotlight at an event at Norwich Cathedral next month.
Julian of Norwich: mother, mystic, radical – a conversation between Claire Gilbert and Jeremy Irons, chaired by the Dean of Norwich – will take place at Norwich Cathedral on Sunday 14 May at 2pm ahead of a special Evensong service dedicated to Julian of Norwich at 3.30pm.
The event is part of the city-wide Julian 650 festival, led by the Julian of Norwich Partnership and celebrating the 650th anniversary of Julian of Norwich experiencing her famous visions from God – known as shewings – in May 1373.
Julian (1342-c 1416) spent her whole life in Norwich and lived as an anchoress in a cell attached to St Julian’s Church in the city. Her book, Revelations of Divine Love, led to her being credited as the first known female writer in the English language, but despite this little is known about her life.
She was the subject of author Claire Gilbert’s academic research but, when Claire was diagnosed with cancer, Julian ceased to be an object of study for her and instead became Claire’s spiritual companion through two and half years of gruelling treatment.
Claire said, as the treatment drew to a close, she heard what she described as a call to tell Julian’s story in the first person, in homage to her, and the result was the fictional autobiography, I, Julian which was published this month (April) and has already earned a five-star review from The Daily Telegraph.
Claire, the director of Westminster Abbey Institute, said: “The book I, Julian was a response to a call from deep within me to tell the inner story of Julian of Norwich in a way that would make sense to a 21st century audience. It felt very like praying.”
Claire will discuss her ‘vision’ of Julian’s life with Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons, a fellow Julian of Norwich enthusiast, at the event at Norwich Cathedral.
Jeremy said: “To be guided down the path into the mind of this 14th Century mystic was for me a real adventure into the extraordinary nature of the soul. An immensely readable and nourishing experience which I wish for everyone. TS Eliot valued her highly; how come it took me so long to find her?”
Jeremy – whose extensive film credits include everything from Reversal of Fortune to The Lion King to Munich: The Edge of War – has previously read TS Eliot for a BBC Radio Four series, and the event on 14 May will also include readings from I, Julian and from TS Eliot’s Four Quartets.
I, Julian will also be available to buy on the day and Claire will be signing copies of the book.
Julian of Norwich: mother, mystic, radical – a conversation between Claire Gilbert and Jeremy Irons, chaired by the Dean of Norwich – will take place in Norwich Cathedral’s Weston Room on Sunday 14 May at 2pm. Tickets cost £8 plus booking fee. To book, visit cathedral.org.uk
Following the event, there will be a special Evensong service dedicated to Julian of Norwich at 3.30pm at Norwich Cathedral. All are welcome to attend the service.