Along with Chaucer's Wife of Bath, Margery Kempe is the best known female pilgrim in late medieval England. However, The Book of Margery Kempe portrays its pious protagonist as a radically different kind of pilgrim from that of Chaucer's fun-loving Alisoun, who represents a fairly damning critique of female pilgrimage in the late Middle Ages. This article reassesses Margery's pilgrim identity, particularly in the light of fifteenth-century criticism of female pilgrimage. Focusing on Margery's narrative persona, it argues that the pilgrim label given to Margery by scholars is not one intended by the author herself. Close examination reveals that Margery's travel motivations, journey destinations, and religious activities place her outside normative pilgrimage practices. Given her lofty spiritual aspirations and her identification with saintly role models, the article also asks whether Margery even envisaged herself as a pilgrim at all.

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