Dr Timothy Glover, Emmanuel




Biographical Information

I am a Research Fellow at Emmanuel College working on medieval English literature. Before coming to Cambridge, I spent eight years at the University of Oxford where I completed a BA in English Literature, MSt in English (650–1550), and DPhil, besides one year studying at the University of California, Los Angeles, where I took a Mellon Post-Baccalaureate in Post-Classical Latin.

My research examines the textual and material forms of medieval religious literature. I am currently completing a monograph which asks why many late-medieval texts seem puzzlingly disorganised to modern readers. It focuses on the sprawling prose forms of Richard Rolle, a fourteenth-century hermit who became one of medieval England's most popular writers. Where past scholars have understood Rolle's prose as reflecting his idiosyncratic and effusive personality, I argue that it reflects normative kinds of compilatory writings, especially those produced outside of academic centres. Making this argument in turn enables a wider intervention: scholarly paradigms for understanding medieval compilation have been formative for our understanding of how late-medieval books became gradually more organised and how the modern concept of the author emerged (as something defined against the compiler). However, these paradigms were largely derived from academic theological books. By contrast, focusing instead on compilatory writing beyond the universities enables us to consider why late-medieval readers sometimes benefitted from miscellaneous forms and how compilation itself functioned as a (distinctly medieval) mode of authorship.

My next project is titled Everyday Visionaries: Latin Reference Books and the Popularisation of the Contemplative Life. It aims to reposition Latin as a language of popularisation before the rise of English, focusing on the late-medieval expansion of contemplative spirituality (or ‘mysticism’) beyond the cloister: among priests and (ultimately) among laypeople. Contemplation refers to the experiential revelation of divine love at the apex of medieval spiritual life. Where past histories of contemplative spirituality either focus on major authorities (such as Augustine or Bernard of Clairvaux) or vernacular writers (such as Julian of Norwich), neither of these were readily available to those ministering outside large institutions in the fourteenth century. Thus, my project argues that Latin reference works constitute an under-recognised tradition of popular mysticism that spread among medieval priests and friars, and I explore how this tradition shaped lay religious life and the next generation of writers and poets.

My research on medieval religious writing comes with a commitment to making sources accessible. A spinoff of my work on Rolle is a critical edition and translation of Emendatio vitae, his most popular text (and one of the most popular works by any late-medieval English author). This edition follows on from my discovery of the original authorial version of that text, which survives complete in just one manuscript, with the 120 odd other copies conveying a non-authorial abridgement. The edition also includes further texts that illuminate Rolle’s literary context and may even have been written by him, thus offering a critical re-evaluation of the accepted canon of Rolle’s Latin writing.

Research Interests

religious literature; pastoral literature; contemplative spirituality; visionary writing; book history; Latin literature; medieval religious lyric; medieval theology; compilation; authorship; popular literature; prose forms; autobiography

Selected Publications


Compilatory Form and Authorship in Richard Rolle and in Late-Medieval Religious Literature (monograph, in progress)

Richard Rolle: Emendatio vitae and Other Latin Works (under contract with Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies)

Peer-Reviewed Articles

'"Strange in His Ways, Strange in His Words": Eccentricity, Eremitism, and Autobiography in the Writings of Richard Rolle', Speculum 99 (forthcoming)

'Late-Medieval Commonplace Culture, the Pastoral Compendium, and the Form of Richard Rolle's The Form of Living', Review of English Studies 75, issue 319 (2024), 165–83. DOI:10.1093/res/hgae007

'The Original Text, Recipient, and Manuscript Presentation of Richard Rolle's Emendatio vitae', Mediaeval Studies 85 (forthcoming)

'Richard Rolle's Commentary on the Lord's Prayer: Composition, Text, Reception', The Journal of Medieval Latin 34 (forthcoming)

'Singing from Manuscripts? Fifteenth-Century, English, Secular Songs with Music and their Reading Practices', Postgraduate English: A Journal and Form for Postgraduates in English 33 (2016), 1–30.

Book Chapters

'Richard Rolle and the Heresy of the Free Spirit', Medieval Mystical Tradition in England IX, ed. E.A. Jones (Boydell and Brewer, forthcoming)