Stories that inspired M.R. James

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

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Episode 62 – The Upper Berth by F. Marion Crawford

November 26, 2017 | Episodes | Comments (2)


Mike and Will take a cruise across the pond in the good ship Kamchatka – but who’s hiding in The Upper Berth?  Joining us to narrate F. Marion Crawford’s classic tale is reader Rupert Simons, who tells us that he’s found a cheap cabin for his trip from The Hook to Harwich next week…

Show notes:

  • F. Marion Crawford was a very successful writer who penned comparatively few ghost stories and as chiefly known for his historical novels.
  • The Upper Berth was originally published in “The Broken Shaft: Tales in Mid-Ocean”, an anthology of tales told by passengers on a stranded ocean liner.  Friend of the show Dewi Evans (whom we interviewed at JamesCon in Episode 51) has written an excellent post about this collection on his blog.
  • Ruthanna Emrys and Anne Pillsworth have written an excellent essay on this story, mentioned in our show.  Anne suggests that “Bertie” is the ghost of a man who justs wants the bed for which he paid!
  • There is a short film adaptation of ‘The Upper Berth’ by Mansfield Dark. You can watch it online but it’s also available as an extra on the DVD ‘The Story of a Disappearance and an Appearance’.
  • Our fabulous cover art came from illustrator and designer Mike Godwin, whose website is full of wonderful things and links to his Etsy shop.


  1. A Rat In The Wall says:

    Great episode of a great story, lads!

    The horror for me comes from the setting of a bed, a place of rest, relaxation and extreme vulnerability being invaded. I mean, there’s very few places where you’re as vulnerable as you are in bed, completely and generally literally unconscious of what’s happening around you. And now there’s a ghost. It’s the same reason I generally discount a lot of the Freudian stuff around slasher films – dumbass teens are generally going to be very unaware of their surroundings while doing it, being drunk or getting high. Prime time to get shanked by Jason, I think, you’ve no way of defending yourself properly.

  2. Paxton's Spade says:

    Enjoyed this one. I can see why MRJ liked it – good visceral protagonist with some good descriptive conjuring of the dank, salty drownee. No new ghost stories on TV this Christmas I note, but for anyone without a copy of the BFI GSFC collection, BBC4 are showing the Mark Gatiss documentary, Tractate Middoth, Number 13, Signalman and two Christopher Lee readings on Christmas Eve. There is also a short piece in Radio Times on the pleasure of Christmas Ghosts and decrying the lack of new adaptations.

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