Richard Rolle (1290/1300 – late September 1349) was an English hermit, mystic, and religious writer. He is also known as Richard Rolle of Hampole or de Hampole, since at the end of his life he lived near a Cistercian nunnery in Hampole, Yorkshire. In the words of Nicholas Watson, scholarly research has shown that "during the fifteenth century he was one of the most widely read of English writers, whose works survive in nearly four hundred English...and at least seventy Continental manuscripts, almost all written between 1390 and 1500."
In his works, Rolle provides little explicit evidence about his early life and education. Most, if not all, of our information about him comes from the Office of Lessons and Antiphons that was composed in the 1380s in preparation for his canonisation, although this never came about.
Born into a small farming family and brought up at Thornton-le-Dale near Pickering, he studied at the University of Oxford, where he was sponsored by Thomas de Neville, the Archdeacon of Durham. While there, he is said to have been more interested in theology and biblical studies than philosophy and secular studies. He left Oxford at age eighteen or nineteen - dropping out before he received his MA - to become a hermit. Leaving the family home, he first went to Pickering, and housed with a squire, John Dalton, for perhaps three years...
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