17 August 2012
James Marriott, a Senior Library Assistant as well as the author of several books, died recently. Jez Conolly and Liz Cooper offer this tribute.
After gaining a BA with distinction in English and American Literature at Manchester University in the early 1990s, and prior to beginning work in the Library, James began his association with the world of publishing. He worked as a proof-reader, copy-editor, structural editor and general reader for Virgin Books, Random House and Simon & Schuster. From the early 2000s, right up to his untimely passing, he wrote and edited a number of books, including several titles in Virgin’s True Crime series under the name Patrick Blackden. James then went on to specialise in publications related to Horror Cinema. His book Horror: the Definitive Guide to the Cinema of Fear (Andre Deutsch, 2006), co-written with Kim Newman, was described by the London Book Review as ‘an extremely engaging and intelligent guide to horror film… informative, opinionated and down-right interesting to read.’ His recent article writing has featured in 21st Century Gothic (2011, Scarecrow Press) and The Exorcist - Studies in the Horror Film (2012, Centipede Press) and his film reviews have appeared in the magazine SFX.
James completed an MA in Film Studies at University of Exeter in 2010, for which his dissertation on Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques gained a further distinction. He had recently been pursuing funding for a PhD concerning clowns in cinema. He had also submitted the final draft of a book in the Devil’s Advocates series for Auteur, covering the British horror film The Descent, a matter of days before his death.
James began work as a library assistant at the Arts and Social Sciences Library in October 2003. He went on to perform Senior Library Assistant duties in the Continuing Education Library and in the library relegation team, and also to provide support in Special Collections. He maintained his work with the Arts and Social Sciences Library shelving team and was influential in the recent refurbishment-related movement of stock.
James made a great many friends during his time in the library and we will long cherish the memory of our conversations with him. These would range from archaeology and landscape to esoteric spiritual topics to poetry. His wide range of eclectic musical tastes would also often provide the topic of discussion. This took in everything from folk guitarists to experimentalism and avant-garde jazz. He was incredibly well read: his literary knowledge encompassed everything from classics to pulp horror. Particular favourites were Philip K Dick and William S Burroughs.
Away from work, James was an intrepid traveller and made frequent, lengthy, often lone, sorties into parts of the world best described as ‘off the beaten track’. These occasionally led to some hair-raising moments which, despite the dangers that he faced, would eventually be fashioned into wry anecdotes. His exploits and the tales that would emerge as a result help to illustrate James’ massive appetite for life. Those of us who knew him would best describe him as ‘intellectually curious’. James’s breadth of knowledge and experience, his thirst for sharing these and receiving the thoughts and opinions of his friends and colleagues, means that we probably all knew a different James. All would agree that he was a true one-off, a fascinating individual, and a workmate who will be terribly missed.