The First Medieval Women's Magazine?

The First Medieval Women's Magazine?

The First Medieval Women's Magazine?

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
May 29 2009 1:40 PM

The First Medieval Women's Magazine?

There's a fascinating piece in The Star about a manuscript discovered by a Canadian researcher that appears to be ... a medieval women's magazine . It contains content about "cinnamon," an excerpt from Chaucer, recipes for making sealing wax, and more. As the Star puts it,

The anthology, dedicated to female readers, is known today as Biblioteca Nazionale . Written in Middle English, it predates by centuries many modern women's magazines such as Chatelaine , Cosmopolitan and Redbook . But just like modern women's magazines, it offers advice aplenty-everything from ways to ease childbirth to how to lure a rabbit out of its warren.

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What's fascinating is the mental picture that emerges of a medieval woman sitting by the fire, reading Chaucer and recipes just as a 1960s American woman would have flipped in Ms. from fiction to fashion spread. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Meghan O'Rourke is Slate’s culture critic and an advisory editor. She was previously an editor at the New Yorker. The Long Goodbye, a memoir about her mother’s death, is now out in paperback.