Casting the Runes: The Letters of MR James

By Jane Mainley-Piddock

Foreword by Mark Gatiss

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Update – 3rd February 2021

Update – 3rd February 2021

Okay here I am sitting at my desk in the time of good Queen Elizabeth the 2nd, (bless you marm) in the time of a pandemic. Okay so I haven’t buried cheese in my garden and the only plague doctor’s are ironic, but it is a pretty bleak and sad time for many of us out there in the great sea of humanity.

I am presently in the world of M R James in his undergraduate days in King’s College Cambridge in 1884, and to update all of you lovely people who are eager to see what James has been writing in his letters so far as I transcribe them from their originals held in various archives.

Well it has been very interesting as so far I have followed his progress from a young boy of seven writing to his brother Sydney from their home, Livermere Rectory to the first boarding school that James had to attend, Temple Grove, and the letters he wrote to his Mother Mary Emily, which were full of his homesickness and his visits out to various museums and other notable landmarks.

He writes of “The American Dart”, “The Great Hoppole” and wishes for his sister to send him great big fat horse chestnuts. Then we are on to Eton where James encountered his own pandemic scare, when smallpox was a spectre more real than any of the ghosts he was to write about later.

I am up to James’s undergraduate days at King’s College Cambridge right now, and all of the balls, plays and lunches that occupy his calendar. I’m amazed that he managed to get any studying done. I will keep you updated, bye for now – got to get on with the transcribing.

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