Marion’s Categorized Bibliography

Primary Sources

Boniface, A Letter from Boniface to Lioba (742-46)

Bugga, A letter from Bugga, abbess (c.720)

Eangyth, A Letter from Eangyth, abbess (719-22)

Ecburg, A Letter from Ecburg (716-20)

Lioba, A letter from Lioba/Leobgytha/Leoba, abbess of Tauberbischofsheim (c.732)

All of these are relatively short letters, which is why I have included several to work from. All the women (Bugga, Eangyth, Ecburg, and Lioba) are known or thought to be abbesses who were writing to St. Boniface, a monk and missionary of importance who was traveling in Germany. All of these letters use language related to friendship and discuss the relationship of these women to Boniface. The letters are often asking for something and have peripheral discussion of the social standing and role of the women writing the letters. 

Historical Background

This section is background information on the historical period (especially women and women’s writing) and Boniface. It is useful for contextualizing the letter in wider historical and religious trends of the time period. 

Bell, David N. 1995. What Nuns Read: Books and Libraries in Medieval English Nunneries. Cistercian Studies Series ; No. 158. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications.

  • I have not yet found a way to access this book, but I think it would be incredibly useful if I could, and would particularly help understand Eangyth’s letter, which contains a variety of literary allusions beyond the Bible.

Hollis, Stephanie. 1992. Anglo-Saxon Women and the Church: Sharing a Common Fate. Woodbridge, Suffolk [UK] ; Boydell Press.

  • Three out of four of the women whose letters I am pulling from are from modern-day England, and all of them are abbesses, so this provides important background. In particular, the fourth chapter is entitled “4. Confessors and Spiritual Mentors: Hagiographic Ideals and the Boniface Circle, p. 113,” which I have not yet had the opportunity to read. 

Wallace-Hadrill, John Michael. 1971. “A Background to St. Boniface’s Mission.” In England before the Conquest. Studies in Primary Sources Presented to Dorothy Whitelock, edited by P. Clemoes and Kevin L. Hughes, 35–48. Cambridge: Cambridge University Pr. 35-40

  • Short, general background on Boniface. 

Watt, Diane. 2020. Women, Writing and Religion in England and beyond, 650-1100. Studies in Early Medieval History. London ; Bloomsbury Academic.

  • Explores the writings of women (epistolary and otherwise) covering the 8th century CE.

Wilson, Katharina M. 1984. Medieval Women Writers. Athens, Ga: University of Georgia Press.


This section is methodological background on the study of letter-writing (epistolography), and includes some articles that are not related to medieval women but provide useful background on the language and conventions of letter-writing as well as methodologies for how to read letters.

Allen, Pauline. 2020. Greek and Latin Letters in Late Antiquity: The Christianisation of a Literary Form. Cambridge, United Kingdom ; Cambridge University Press.

  • Neil, Bronwen, and Pauline Allen, eds. 2020a. “Letter-Types and Their Uses.” In Greek and Latin Letters in Late Antiquity: The Christianisation of a Literary Form, 70–93. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • ———, eds. 2020b. “Networks and Communities of Readers.” In Greek and Latin Letters in Late Antiquity: The Christianisation of a Literary Form, 116–43. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • ———, eds. 2020c. “The Christianisation of the Late Antique Letter-Form.” In Greek and Latin Letters in Late Antiquity: The Christianisation of a Literary Form, 24–46. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

All of these are from the same book, but they are the most relevant chapters for the purpose of understanding epistolography and specifically the Christian forms of letters. The chapter “Networks and Communities of Readers” also provides context for how letters were read, passed around, and expected to be read.

Altman, Janet Gurkin. 1982. Epistolarity: Approaches to a Form. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.

Cambron-Goulet, Mathilde. 2017. “Social Performance in Synesius’ Letters.” Phoenix 71 (1/2): 119–37.

  • This article, while about an unrelated author and from a somewhat different period, provides background context about social performance in letters and the tension between private and public common in letter-writing. 

Conybeare, Catherine. 2005. “Spaces Between Letters: Augustine’s Correspondence with Women.” In Voices in Dialogue: Reading Women in the Middle Ages, edited by Kathryn Kerby-Fulton and Linda Olson, 57–72. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.

  • This article is about Augustine, but it discusses the approach of reading “between” letters to find women’s presence and unheard voices, which is an important approach given that women’s writing often does not survive. 

Cünnen, Janina. 1997. “Amicitia in Old English Letters: Augustine’s Ideas of ‘Friendship’ and Their Reception in Eangyth’s Letter to Boniface.” Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses, November.

  • The single most specific piece of writing on one of these letters that I could personally find. 

Gibson, Roy. 2012. “On the Nature of Ancient Letter Collections.” Journal of Roman Studies 102 (November): 56–78.

  • This discusses the idea of a letter collection, and the practice of collecting and publishing a collection of one’s own letters, which was a not-uncommon practice in Rome.

Knight, Gillian R. 2005. “Friendship and Erotics in the Late Antique Verse-Epistle: Ausonius to Paulinus Revisited.” Rheinisches Museum Für Philologie 148 (3/4): 361–403.

  • This article is, again, about a different letter-writer but also delves into the language of friendship and erotics, providing a lot of context that is helpful for understanding how the language of letters can be read closely using the background of accepted forms/conventions.

Morello, Ruth, and A. D. Morrison. 2007. Ancient Letters Classical and Late Antique Epistolography. Oxford: University Press.

  • Ebbeler, Jennifer. 2007. “13 Mixed Messages: The Play of Epistolary Codes in Two Late Antique Latin Correspondences.” In Ancient Letters: Classical and Late Antique Epistolography, edited by Ruth Morello and A. D. Morrison, 0. Oxford University Press.
  • Rees, Roger. 2007. “6 Letters of Recommendation and the Rhetoric of Praise.” In Ancient Letters: Classical and Late Antique Epistolography, edited by Ruth Morello and A. D. Morrison, 0. Oxford University Press.

These two sections of “Ancient Letters Classical and Late Antique Epistolography provide grounding in the rhetoric and conventions of letters, thus giving lens through which to view the language of letter-writing and understand how the conventions work to create particular relationships and act within social structures.


This section contains material related to friendship through Classical and Christian forms, which provides an important lens for how to view the letters. 

Jeep, John M. 1998. “Among Friends?: Early German Evidence of Friendship among Women.” Women in German Yearbook 14: 1–18.

  • An article about friendship among women specifically, highlighting another way to look at things beyond the dominant male friendship dynamics of the time period. 

Nawar, Tamer. 2015. “Augustine on the Dangers of Friendship.” The Classical Quarterly 65 (2): 836–51.

  • Discusses the concerns raised in the Confessions about friendship as a barrier to Christian virtue. The Confessions were enormously influential in shaping Christian thought in the late-antique and medieval period. 

Konstan, David. 1997a. Friendship in the Classical World. Key Themes in Ancient History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

These two sections of “Friendship in the Classical World” give background on “amacitia” and how it developed in Rome and then after the Christianization of the empire began. This provides essential background on how ideas of friendship were performed and written about. 

White, Carolinne. 1992a. Christian Friendship in the Fourth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

These book chapters compliment “Friendship in the Classical World” by expanding the cope into Christian friendship but also highlighting some of the conflicts between Classical and Christian ideas of friendship, Christian faith and friendship, and the transition between Classical and Christian. 

One thought on “Marion’s Categorized Bibliography

  1. Cambron-Goulet, Mathilde. 2017. “Social Performance in Synesius’ Letters.” Phoenix 71 (1/2): 119–37.

    While claiming a focus on the letters of Synesius in particular, this article makes broad generalizations about ancient letter-writing, primarily focusing on the etiquette behind epistolography and its strengthening effect on friendship. While there is value in these observations, the author shows themselves too biased by modern notions of letter-writing, including comparisons with the advent of post-cards as representations of friendship, and the presented etiquette is taken as moral code with little distinction being drawn by the author between persona and author. In short, the author presents the drama of letter-writing as social reality in no less ludicrous a way as a scholar one hundred years from now might take scenes from Jane Austen as typical instances of genuine and honest social interactions.

    Konstan, David. 1997a. “Rome.” In Friendship in the Classical World, 122–48. Key Themes in Ancient History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    This article provides a comprehensive account of the different aspects of friendship in Ancient Rome, all of which seem to tie back in some way to politics, either on a pseudo-personal level as in publicly calling people out for breaking bonds of amacitia, or else on the state-level regarding the ways that friendship can affect the state, and vice versa. Even ideas of personal friendships outside of the political realm, such as the section of friendship between men and women, are shown to be tinged by public perception and opinion that is in and of itself expressly intermingled with politics. In all, this is an excellent source for the perceived nature of friendship in Rome, and the political connections provide an intriguing analysis of the consistent underlying effect of social commentary thereon.

    Hi, Marion!

    I think that these two sources provide a really intriguing platform for analyzing friendship, in the case of your thesis it seems specifically friendship between women, through the lens of socio-political consequences and stimuli, as well as regarding the significant and at times uncertain distinction between what one might call “friendship in action” and “friendship in performance”. In particular, too strong an intermingling of these concepts makes for some of the negative aspects that are in my opinion present in the analysis of the epistolary friendship in Cambron-Goulet, but the presence of this confusion in effect lends further emphasis on the significance of a more careful distinction in further analyses, as exemplified in large part by Konstan, and which might be more specifically applied to the subset of epistolary friendship involved in your work. You, of course, by now probably have your own ideas and directions, so this is of course purely just a suggestion. All the best with your continued thesis work this semester and next!


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