In 1942, while walking home to the Surrey village of Foxton after visiting a longtime friend, retired British tradesman James Blunt was startled to find a weatherbeaten-looking diary book in the woods near his backyard.
Chance Encounter Part #1He was further surprised to find the diary contained dozens of entries made in a handwriting eerily resembling his own; what truly shocked him, however, was that the content of these entries described the life of another James Blunt living in a Britain under Nazi occupation and were dated September of 1944 through March of 1945. Convinced he was having a mental breakdown, Blunt immediately sought psychiatric help.
But in reality Blunt had come briefly in contact with a parallel world in which the Nazis had succeeded in invading and conquering Great Britain in 1940. British journalist and author H.V. Morton, intrigued by Blunt's experiences, began to investigate further; his inquiries led to the publication of the biography I, James Blunt in 1943. Morton's book was an instant bestseller in Great Britain and also enjoyed considerable popularity in the United States and Canada. Hollywood mogul Louis B. Mayer bought the film rights to Morton's book in 1945; in 1948 MGM's movie adaptation of Blunt would play to packed audiences at movie theaters worldwide.
The discovery of the diary by Blunt's counterpart in the Nazi-occupied parallel Britain would serve as the chief catalyst for a global surge of interest in the subject of alternate history and the concept of parallel (or "mirror") universes; by 1954 some four dozen government, academic, and corporate agencies were actively researching ways to make contact with these alternate worlds. James Blunt would serve as a consultant to one such project at Oxford until he died in 1965 at the age of eighty-two. In 1983, as part of ceremonies marking the centennial of Blunt's birthday, Oxford would rechristen its main physics laboratory Blunt Hall.