"I Will Consider The Evidence........"
|M.R. James. 1862-1936.
Montague Rhodes James was born in 1862 in Goodnestone Parsonage, Kent, where his father was the curate, and died in 1936. He developed a taste for old books from a precocious
age and was fonder of reading dusty volumes in the library than playing with the other children. He studied at Eton and then at King's College, Cambridge, where he became assistant in Classical archaeology at the Fitzwilliam museum. He was
elected a Fellow of King's after writing his dissertation The Apocalypse of St. Peter, and after that, he lectured in divinity, eventually becoming dean of the college in 1889. He was a distinguished medievalist
and wrote a large amount of reviews, translations, monographs, articles and works on bibliography, palaeography, antiquarian
issues, and often edited volumes for specialized bibliographical and historical societies. He was a brilliant linguist and
biblical scholar, and he was exceptionally gifted, which, along with his unusually keen memory and hard work, enabled him
to write many pioneering studies. His translation of the Apocryphal New Testament in 1924 was one of these studies. He was made provost of King's College in 1905 and was later the vice-chancellor of
the university from 1913 to 1915. His research often took him abroad, and he visited Cyprus, Denmark, Bavaria, Austria and
Sweden, where he set his story "Count Magnus", whom he based on the 17th century count Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie.
Although he was a great scholar in his day, he is now most remembered for
his ghost stories. Fascinated by the supernatural, he was an admirer of the Irish mystery-writer John Sheridan LeFanu, whose
ghost stories he edited. James's stories were usually first published in magazines such as the Cambridge Review, but
some were written for special occasions. Wailing Well is one such story, composed for the gathering of the Eton College
boy scouts in 1927. His life was spent in studying the past. Among other things, he catalogued the many manuscript collections
in Cambridge, a task that took forty years to complete. He never married and never had any children. The university, Eton and
his books were his life.
The Studies Of An Antiquary
|M.R. James in his study