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Stories that inspired M.R. James

Twelve tales of terror recommended by the master of the genre!

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Episode 77 – The Man with the Roller by E.G. Swain

E.G. Swain

This episode Mike and Will put on their dancing shoes and head out to the lawn, only to encounter The Man with the Roller by E.G. Swain!

Massive thanks to podcaster Jim Moon of hypnogoria.com for letting us use extracts from his reading of this story in the episode! You can listen to the full reading, as well as all Jim’s other E.G. Swain readings here.

Note: we realised after recording that the repeated references to dancing on the lawn ire probably a bit of black humour regarding Andrew Birch who, being hanged, clearly did some ‘dancing’ of his own in relation to his activities on the lawn!

Notes:

  • E.G. Swain (Wikipedia)
    There is rather scant information about E.G. Swain available online, but his wikipedia page is a good place to start.
  • The Stoneground Ghost Tales (Project Gutenberg)
    This story and all the others in the volume can be read and downloaded for free here.
  • Stanground (Google maps)
    The real-world Stoneground can be found just outside Peterborough. The church is much as Swain would have known it. The rest of the village, not so much, but these historical maps can give you a good idea of what it was like before the modern housing and industrial estates took hold.
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Episode 76 – How Fear Departed From the Long Gallery

E. F. Benson, aged 27

We liven up our social distancing by finishing off the Benson boys, with Fred’s How Fear Departed From the Long Gallery.  Dirty Dick gets his comeuppance for a murderous deed, but can the ghosts of his victims be laid to rest?

Trigger warning for gratuitous violence against children.  And yes, we do mean it this time!

Thank you again to the fabulous Richard Crowest of the ‘Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson’ podcast for giving us permission to use extracts from his reading of this story in the episode. You can find out more about Richard, including his E.F. Benson and ‘Short Stories by Saki’ podcasts, at www.corvidae.co.uk.

 

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Episode 75 – The Traveller by R.H. Benson

R.H. BensonThis episode explores some ecclesiastical terrors in R.H. Benson’s ‘The Traveller’. It was ‘too ecclesiastical’ for M.R. James, but will Mike and Will find something to enjoy in this tale of perturbed priests, creepy confessionals and historical haunting?

Thanks to our reader for this episode Debbie Wedge!

Show notes:

  • Robert Hugh Benson (catholiceducation.org)
    Benson was ordained a priest by his Archbishop father in 1895 before sending shockwaves through the church by converting to Catholicism in 1904, the year after this story was published.
  • The Light Invisible by R.H. Benson (Gutenberg)
    The volume that this story appears in can be read in full online at Project Gutenberg.
  • Frederick Rolfe (wikipedia)
    Benson’s close friendship and literary collaboration with the eccentric Frederick Rolfe (the self-styled ‘Baron Corvo’) threatened to derail Benson’s religious career.
  • Thomas Becket (wikipedia)
    Becket was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. During his life he quarreled with King Henry II over the rights of the church, and was made a saint after his death.
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