Eric James

History and Provenance

Canon Eric James (1925-2012) was an Anglican priest and Chaplain Extraordinary to HM the Queen. Born in Essex, he left school at fourteen and worked for several years on a Thames wharf. After the Second World War, James read Divinity at King’s College London, going on to become Assistant Curate of St Stephen with St John, Westminster. From 1955-59 he was chaplain of Trinity College, Cambridge, where he associated with several well-known clerics, including Robert Runcie (who would become Archbishop of Canterbury) and John Robinson, some of whose papers are held at Gladstone’s Library. James would become Robinson’s biographer. For many years he regularly offered ‘Thought for the Day’ on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme. He lived for many years in the London Charterhouse.

His archive was deposited at Gladstone’s Library four years after his death in 2012 and forms part of the Library’s ‘Radical Theology’ archives, along with the archives of Don Cupitt, John Robinson, Robert Jeffrey, and Jim Cotter.

Access and Finding Aid

The archive is currently undergoing full inventory and arrangement. It is not currently listed on the Library’s online catalogue but basic finding aids are available on request. Please send requests to

All archives and special collections can only be accessed via a Request to Read Restricted Items form, which must be submitted at least 14 days in advance of your visit.

As this is a contemporary archive, some items may be closed to researchers. If access is possible, you will need to complete a Request to Read Closed Items form.

Arrangement and Description

The collection holds James’s personal papers, arranged by him several times, during which it was reduced to its original deposit of twenty-three boxes of material. The collection contains papers and some digital media. Themes and subjects include: the Christian Action Group, Faith in the city, South Bank Religion, James’s defence of homosexuality, Parish and People, and Shakespeare and Theology.

Food for Thought

Food for thought

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