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.
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. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108186834.004.
- ———, 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. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108186834.006.
- ———, 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. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108186834.002.
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. https://doi.org/10.7834/phoenix.71.1-2.0119.
- 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. https://muse.jhu.edu/chapter/3103998/pdf.
- 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. https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.1997.10.04.
- 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. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0075435812000019.
- 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. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203956.003.0014.
- 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. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203956.003.0007.
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. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511612152.
- ———, 1997b. “Christian and Pagan.” In Friendship in the Classical World, 149–73. Key Themes in Ancient History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511612152.006.
- ———, ed. 1997c. “Rome.” In Friendship in the Classical World, 122–48. Key Themes in Ancient History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511612152.005.
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. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511520594.
- ———, ed. 1992b. “Classical Theories of Friendship.” In Christian Friendship in the Fourth Century, 13–44. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511520594.003.
- ———, ed. 1992c. “Some Problems of Christian Friendship.” In Christian Friendship in the Fourth Century, 45–60. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511520594.004.
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.