On the Abbey of S. Edmund at Bury
M. R. James (1862–1936) is probably best remembered as a writer of ghost stories, but he was also an outstanding palaeographer and scholar of medieval literature. He served both as Provost of King's College, Cambridge, and as Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum: many of his stories reflect his background. This 1895 work on the abbey of Bury St Edmunds, one of the richest Benedictine houses in England before the Dissolution of the Monasteries, is in two parts, on the abbey's library and on the church. James describes his efforts to reconstruct the content of the library from catalogues and lists, and from the dispersed books themselves. Work on the library led to a study of the buildings of the abbey, as described in surviving accounts from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century. This engaging account of an important institution will be of interest to bibliographers and students of medieval history.