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UCL events news and reviews


Archaeological ghost stories: M.R. James at the Petrie Museum

By Katherine Aitchison, on 30 July 2012

Petrie Museum events are fast becoming a firm fixture in my diary, not least because of the ghostly subject matter that they tend to cover. I’ve been to talks about psychics and curses, but for the latest event (on 19 July) we turned to some archaeological ghost stories.

The action centred on one man: M.R. James and the stories he was inspired to write during his career as an academic at Cambridge and Eton.

James is famous for bringing ghost stories out of their customary Gothic setting and into more contemporary, everyday locations and for being one of the first authors to use antiquarians as the main protagonists.

Dr Gabriel Moshenska of the UCL Institute of Archaeology took us on a journey through his research into the inspiration behind James’ stories and showed how elements of James’ extraordinary life were reflected in many of his works.

As the son of a rector, James spent much of his childhood in or around churches in Suffolk, which served as the settings for many of his stories.