During the course of researching the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Assessment, in 2018 I discovered the handwritten text of a lecture about the abbey church which was delivered by M.R. James in the Bury St Edmunds Athenaeum on 21st April 1932. The manuscript is held by the Cambridge University Library, where is was accessioned in 1954 as MS Add. 8389. As an unpublished work, the copyright of the lecture is held by James's literary executors who kindly granted permission for me to transcribe, edit and publish the text of the lecture in the 2020 volume of the Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History. You can download a PDF copy of this article using the link below:
- Hoggett, R. (ed.) 2020. ‘M.R. James on ‘The Abbey Church at Bury’: the text of a lecture given at the Athenaeum, Bury St Edmunds, 21 April 1932’, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute for Archaeology and History 44 (4), pp. 637-57.
In May 2022, the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership staged a dramatic recreation of the 1932 lecture. I gave a short introductory talk about M.R. James and the lecture was held performed by Robert Lloyd Parry, who is well known for his performances of M.R. James's ghost stories. The event was generously supported by The Bury Society. A video of the lecture can we viewed below or on the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership YouTube channel.
We are all very grateful to M.R. James's literary executors, who retain the copyright of the unpublished lecture text, for granting permission to reproduce the lecture in print and on stage.