Bury St Edmunds legend of Maude Carew back on shelves as Francis Young re-releases Margaretta Greene's 'The Secret Disclosed'
A ghost story which sparked riots on the streets of Bury St Edmunds upon its release in 1860 is coming back into print for the first time in 159 years.
Margaretta Greene’s novella The Secret Disclosed is a local legend in the town. It tells the story of Maude Carew, a nun in medieval Bury whose unrequited love for a monk of the Abbey leads her to murder Humphrey Duke of Gloucester - who really did die in Bury in 1447.
The account was wholly fictional and released on a limited run, with Greene’s family thought to be the book’s only intended readers. But as word-of-mouth spread, a large crowd gathered at the Great Churchyard in February 1862, expecting to see the ghost of Maude Carew - an event predicted in the book.
“It turned ugly,” says Francis Young, a historian who has republished the 88-page book and added his own introduction.
“People started throwing stones and rioting!
“The book was only printed in a small run and it was never intended for a wide audience, but people accepted it as fact. I am now only aware of three copies remaining, it is very rare.”
The Secret Disclosed was Greene’s only published work, but remains a legend in Bury with gatherings held at the Great Churchyard in February to this day. Greene lived all of her life in a house next to the St Edmundsbury Cathedral. She is part of the family which also founded the Greene King brewery and is also an ancestor of Graham Greene - a leading 20th century author.
Dr Young said: “The story is very well known and that is why I wanted to bring it back. I am very interested in Bury St Edmunds and its local folklore. For some readers, ghosts can be a stepping stone from fiction into history.
“I think the attraction of this book was it is very local and told a story about a place we all know - but it is also about female friendships.”
Dr Young has left the original text largely unedited, which he admits may be challenging for a modern reader - but he wanted to ensure the version was true to the original.
“Styles change, but the idea of something from the past having echoes in the present is a popular theme in modern writing,” he added.
To buy a copy, visit www.lulu.com and search ‘The Secret Disclosed’.
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