This essay reads The Book of Margery Kempe alongside the morality plays of the Macro manuscript — The Castle of Perseverance, Wisdom, and Mankind — to argue that the Book shares important features with them. Kempe's documentary mission relies on morality play formulas and themes, which imply her participation in the flourishing dramatic culture found in early fifteenth-century East Anglia prior to the scripting of the region's famous plays. The evidence presented in the sole surviving manuscript of the Book offers insight into how Kempe's eventual readers, the Carthusians of Mount Grace Priory, both understood and valued the performative and interactive nature of her text for their own acts of readerly performance. Although other work has drawn attention to Kempe's dramatic impulses, viewing the Book itself as a remnant of performance demonstrates the importance of interrogating where and how the traces of premodern performance can be located beyond the textual archive.

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