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Amy Jeffs

Wednesday 23rd October

St Mary's Church, St Mary's Street, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4HF
Doors Open
Start Time
Amy Jeffs combined

From Amy Jeffs, bestselling author of Storyland and Wild, comes Saints, a sweeping new legendary of miracles, magic, human frailty and heroic strength, illustrated with over thirty original paper cutouts by the author.

Saints' legends suffused medieval European culture. Their heroes' suffering and wonder-working shaped landscapes, rituals and folk beliefs. Their tales spoke of men raised by wolves, women communing with flocks of birds and severed heads calling from between bristling paws.

In Saints, Amy Jeffs retells legends born of the medieval cult of saints. She draws on 'official' lives, vernacular romances, artworks and obscene poetry, all spanning from the fourth to the sixteenth centuries. The legends' heroes originate from as far east as Turkey and North Africa and as far west as Britain and Ireland. Saints includes such enduring super saints as Brigid, George, Patrick and Michael, as well as some whose legends are less well known (Scoithin, Euphrosyne and Ia) or else couched in prejudice (William of Norwich).

The commentaries following the stories offer a history of each saint and, together, trace the rise and fall of the medieval cult of saints from the first martyrs to the Protestant Reformation. And all this maps onto the passing year: from St Mungo in January to St Thomas Becket in December.

Jeffs guides her readers from images high on the walls of medieval churches, through surviving treasures of the elite and into the shifting silt of the Thames, where lie the lowly image-bearing badges once treasured by pilgrims. She opens manuscripts that hold wondrous stories of the lives and deaths of wayfaring monks, oak-felling missionaries and mighty martyrs. With tales of demons and dragons, with the stubborn skull of a giant, with stories of sleepers in a concealed Greek cave, Saints will enchant and transport readers to other worlds.

Amy Jeffs is a Somerset-based art historian and printmaker with expertise in medieval art and literature. Her first book, Storyland was shortlisted for Book of the Year and was a Sunday Times Bestseller, her second book, Wild received widespread acclaim and was a Guardian audio Book of the Week. Saints is her third book.