Meet the Author

Meet the Author

We spoke to Sean Lang, the writer of 'The Ghostly Gift of Miss Constance Couper', debuting at the ADC Theatre this April.

The Ghostly Gift of Miss Constance Couper is based on one of the most extraordinary pieces of fantasy and - let's face it - fraud ever perpetrated. In 1911 the Principal and Vice Principal of St Hugh's College, Oxford published a small volume called, intriguingly, 'An Adventure', which recounted how, ten years earlier on a visit to the Chateau of Versailles, they had somehow got lost in the grounds near the Trianon (not an uncommon thing to happen) and travelled back to the time of Queen Marie Antoinette, whom they even claimed to have seen (somewhat less common).

The two women, Miss Moberly and Miss Jourdain, each gave their own accounts of their adventure, backed up by extensive research carried out by Miss Moberly, the College Principal, to show that the layout of the chateau and the grounds they had seen were as they had been in the eighteenth century and that other details could only have come from the past. They said they had not only seen figures in eighteenth century dress, but had even spoken and interacted with some of them. They claimed to have heard some music played in a way which was distinctive of the period and even that some of the French pronunciation they had heard suggested eighteenth rather than twentieth century mode of speech. Well, what would you make of it?

I first encountered the story as a child in a magazine and it has intrigued me ever since. What actually happened that day? Could they have had some sort of ghostly vision? Could they actually have slipped through some sort of connection between times? At the very least, what on earth were they thinking?

Unusually for a story centred on Versailles and Oxford, there is quite a bit of material about it in Cambridge. As well as the women's book, Cambridge University Library also has an extensive file investigating their claims, with photographs of the places where they said they saw the ghostly figures. Plenty of people were convinced by their story and it was widely believed, coming as it did from two academic ladies of impeccable respectability and supported by Miss Moberly's research.

Surely they couldn't be making it all up. Could they?

Combined Actors of Cambridge present...
The Ghostly Gift of Miss Constance Couper
Tuesday 16 - Saturday 20 April at 7.45pm
Saturday 20 April at 2.30pm

Click here to book your tickets