The first house of the Brethren was founded at Deventer by Gerhard Groot and his youthful friend Florentius Radewyn; and here Thomas a Kempis received his training.
With the assistance of Florentius Radewyn, who resigned for the purpose a canonry at Utrecht, he was able to carry out a long-cherished idea of establishing a house wherein devout men might live in community without the monastic vows.
Florentius Radewyn and Gerhard's other early disciples were his heroes; their presence was his atmosphere, the measure of their lives his horizon.
But he was not like them; he was not an educational reformer like Radewyn, nor a man of affairs like Gerhard.
He wrote a chronicle of the monastery and several biographies - the life of Gerhard Groot, of Florentius Radewyn, of a Flemish lady St Louise, of Groot's original disciples; a number of tracts on the monastic life - The Monk's Alphabet, The Discipline of Cloisters, A Dialogue of Novices, The Life of the Good Monk, The Monk's Epitaph, Sermons to Novices, Sermons to Monks, The Solitary Life, On Silence, On Poverty, Humility and Patience; two tracts for young people - A Manual of Doctrine for the Young, and A Manual for Children; and books for edification - On True Compunction, The Garden of Roses, The Valley of Lilies, The Consolation of the Poor and the Sick, The Faithful Dispenser, The Soul's Soliloquy, The Hospital of the Poor.