This episode Mike and Will speak to the author A.N. Donaldson, whose debut novel ‘Prospero’s Mirror‘ features M.R. James as the main protagonist!
In the novel M.R. James is summoned to Old College, Oxford to examine the inscription on an ancient mirror which may have belonged to the magician John Dee. Soon James finds himself sucked into a tangled web of science, sorcery and the supernatural which stretches back to 1665 when the Black Death came to Oxford…
“They live in two places, I suppose: in fever dreams and mirrors… What is it? This unutterable thing. An abomination!”
The episode features readings by Alisdair himself.
The book can be purchased in paperback and ebook formats on Amazon.co.uk
For more information on Alisdair, visit his website at www.andonaldson.co.uk
Big thanks go to our reader for this episode, Debbie Wedge.
Questions answered during this episode:
Is M.R. James an anti-semite?
Is Mr Poschwitz the Germanic Lovejoy?
How much snakebite is too much snakebite?
Michael Cox / Pleasing Terror story notes (amazon)
M.R. James’ biographer Michael Cox has written some very useful notes for this story which can be found in the Oxford Classics edition of ‘Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories’. Another set of notes can be found in the ‘Pleasing Terror’ M.R. James anthology.
Stereotypes of Jews in Literature (Wikipedia)
Anti-Semitism has been rearing it’s ugly head in literature for centuries. Was M.R. James jumping on the Hebrew-bashing bandwagon? We think not but this info on how Jews have been portrayed in literature over the years is certainly eye-opening.
Paul Lowe’s illustration of this story (Trashotron.com)
Perennial M.R. James illustrator Paul Lowe produced a horrifying conception of what the flannel creature from this story may have looked like (scroll to the bottom of the page to find it).
The Book of Common Prayer (wikipedia)
Here you can read about the troubled history of the Book of Common Prayer, the first book to publish the forms of common Christian worship in English.
Psalm 109 (rmjs.co.uk)
Here you can read the full Book of Common Prayer version of Psalm 109, in all it’s doom-laden glory!
This episode Will and Mike delve into the toy box and pull out something truly horrible in the form of ‘The Haunted Doll’s House‘ by M.R. James!
Queen Mary’s Dolls’s House
This story was written for a real dolls’ house, the one created by the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens for Queen Mary of Teck between 1921 and 1924. The dolls’ house in currently on display in Windsor. Further details can be found at Wikipedia.
Strawberry Hill House
James describes the dolls house in his story as being ‘Strawberry Hill Gothic‘ in style, the ‘quintessence of Horace Walpole‘. Walpole’s gothic castle-style house inspired a generation of architects when it was built on the banks of the Thames in London in the mid 18th century.