Accounts of Middle English prose, in any case relatively infrequent, have generally confined themselves to an outline of its historical development with occasional fuller comments on the more important texts. Style and tone are the usual criteria used to distinguish the historical development, though more recently the audience has been added. 1 So far we have had no survey of the various genres and types of Middle English prose; an approximation was the survey in A Manual of the Writings in Middle English by John Edwin Wells, now being rewritten. 2 In this manual, certain texts were grouped together for convenience, and no attempt was made to justify the arrangement. Yet the purpose and intention of seemingly similar works may well be different: although Rolle and Hilton are contemplatives, their works are strikingly different; even the works of Rolle are not all of the same type; or, to take a final example, not all sermons are comparable with one another since they were written for diverging purposes and follow different models. Indeed, we may limit our appreciation of individual sermons by regarding them as all belonging to a genre called “sermon.”