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Comic novel is inspired by Saint Edmund

PUBLISHED: 16:07 09 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:22 09 August 2020

The ruins of the Abbey of St Edmunds, which celebrates its 1000th anniversary in 2020  Picture: TOM SOPER

The ruins of the Abbey of St Edmunds, which celebrates its 1000th anniversary in 2020 Picture: TOM SOPER

Tom Soper

The story of Saint Edmund, the child king of East Anglia, is very much part of the fabric of this area.

Anyone for Edmund? is published on August 10 Picture: CONTRIBUTEDAnyone for Edmund? is published on August 10 Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Certainly in Bury St Edmunds - the west Suffolk market town which takes his name - his legend is well-known.

This original Patron Saint of England has also inspired another story: the comic novel ‘Anyone for Edmund?’ by author Simon Edge is a splicing of the historical and modern.

Mr Edge, from Long Melford, timed his book to coincide with this important anniversary year, a millennium since the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund in Bury St Edmunds by King Canute.

MORE: Abbey Gardens tennis courts gone but hunt for saint’s remains on hold

Author Simon Edge lives in Long Melford and has written a comic novel about Saint Edmund Picture: CONTRIBUTEDAuthor Simon Edge lives in Long Melford and has written a comic novel about Saint Edmund Picture: CONTRIBUTED

St Edmund’s shrine at the abbey – now in ruins – was once one of the most famous and wealthy pilgrimage sites in England.

It is believed St Edmund’s remains may lie beneath the old tennis courts at the site in the Abbey Gardens, which has captured the hearts and imaginations of local residents

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Mr Edge, a feature writer and theatre critic at the Daily Express for many years, said: “It [the book] begins with the rediscovery of the remains of St Edmund underneath the old tennis courts at Bury St Edmunds Abbey, and follows the fortunes of a politician who tries to revive Edmund not just as patron saint of England but for the whole UK – with disastrous consequences.

The Saint Edmund statue outside St Edmundsbury Cathedral Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTOThe Saint Edmund statue outside St Edmundsbury Cathedral Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

“It was inspired by the real-life archaeological survey that was meant to take place at Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds this summer, but was stymied by Covid and financial problems.”

MORE: Year of celebrations to mark abbey’s 1000th anniversary

While many of the events organised for 2020 to mark the 1,000 anniversary of the abbey have been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Edge’s book was not derailed.

‘Anyone for Edmund?’ comes with endorsements, including from bestselling US novelist Elinor Lipman and Dr Francis Young, an expert on St Edmund and medieval Bury.

Dr Young described the book as “gripping, funny and richly entertaining. A compelling read grounded in real history.”

Ms Lipman said she “loved this smart and divinely wry book… a terrific eye and ear is at work here!’”

The novel is published tomorrow, August 10, by Lightning Books, the fiction imprint of Eye Books.

Mr Edge is also the author of The Hopkins Conundrum, The Hurtle of Hell and A Right Royal Face-Off.


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