Sequestered Places, Heaving Seas: The Life and Works of M. R. James

Montague Rhodes James (1862-1936) is widely regarded as one of the greatest ghost story writers of all time. His published collections have never been out of print, while popular tales such as ‘A Warning to the Curious’ and ‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’ have been adapted for the screen and hailed as defining the modern style of horror fiction.

Born in Kent, M. R. James moved to Great Livermere, Suffolk, with his family in 1865. Some of his most famous ghost stories are set in the county under disguised names such as Seaburgh (Aldeburgh) and Burnstow (Felixstowe). James was also an influential scholar and medievalist. Following his education at Eton and King’s College, Cambridge, he became Provost of King’s before returning to Eton as Provost in 1918. 

This symposium, celebrating 120 years since the publication of Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1904) aims to bring together scholars, writers, and researchers interested in M. R. James’ life and works. All speakers are welcome to attend an evening dinner followed by a screening and exhibition at The Hold, Suffolk Archives on Monday 29 April.

Keynote Speakers

  • Simon Loxley – M. R. James and the Suffolk Landscape
  • Professor Matt Hills – M. R. James and Adaptation

Topics for 20-minute papers might include but are by no means limited to:

  • James and genre
  • James and landscape
  • James and the figure of the ‘ghost’
  • James and childhood
  • James at King’s/Eton
  • James and medievalism/antiquarianism/archaeology
  • James and modernism
  • James and sexuality/race/gender/class
  • James and Englishness/reticence
  • James and the First World War
  • James as late-Victorian/Edwardian/travel writer
  • James and adaptation/afterlives/illustrations

Please submit abstracts of around 300 words, along with a short bio (100 words) to Dr Lindsey Scott and Dr Jamie Bernthal-Hooker by Monday 29 January 2024. Please use M. R. James symposium as the subject line of your email.

We aim to notify everyone of the outcome by Monday 5 February 2024. This event is being held on Tuesday 30 April 2024.