My first encounter with Julian was in the first term of secondary school...
Reflection from local writer and community nurse consultant, Jessica Streeting
"My first encounter with Julian was in the first term of secondary school, back in the late 1970s, when the headmistress of my Norwich girls’ school marched my whole year down in crocodile to the shrine, to educate us about Julian’s general wondrousness.
Miss Standeven was a biblical scholar. She explained that Julian had been the first woman to write a book in English and she talked in a matter of fact way about Julian’s visions of a loving, accepting God. I am so grateful for this introduction, and while much of what I was supposed to be learning at school did not stick, that day kindled my imagination. I grew to love Julian’s writing and other scholars’ writing about her.
I wrote about that day in my first (self-published) novel, Last Summer in Soho, and in 2020, clutching an unsolicited manuscript for Henry Layte to consider at The Bookhive, I stopped off first in the shrine, as I had done since my teens, to say a little prayer and muster my courage.
Henry was good enough to take the risk with Sea-Change and shortly after, I was commissioned by The National Centre for Writing to write a poem for the UNESCO 10 years City of Literature festival. It seemed natural to write about Julian and the shrine, spiritual inspiration for so many."
Jessica Streeting is a Norfolk-based writer and community nurse consultant.
Her epic poem Sea-Change is published by Propolis. In August 2021 the book was the inaugural winner of The Ellingworth Prize, from Kett’s Books.
Sea-Change was shortlisted for the biography section of East Anglian Book of the Year 2021 and will soon also be available as an audiobook.