Stories that inspired M.R. James

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

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Episode 69 – Smee by A.M. Burrage

A.M. BurrageSeasons greetings listeners! For this special festive episode Mike and Will turn off the lights and dive into the wardrobe for a game of hide-and-shriek, courtesy of A.M. Burrage’s Christmas classic ‘Smee’!

Big thanks go to our reader this week Kirsty Woodfield.

Also mentioned in this episode were ‘The Dead Room’, the new Mark Gatiss ghost story due to air at 10pm on BBC4 this Christmas Eve. Also Robert Lloyd Parry, who is going to be live-streaming a performance of an M.R. James ghost story on Facebook this Christmas Eve at 7pm.

Last but not least, don’t forget to test your M.R. James knowledge with Monty’s Quiz, our brand new (and 100% free) quiz game with over 300 M.R. James-based multiple-choice questions!

Show notes


Episode 68: The Death Mask by Mrs H.D. Everett

9273158998_c527789825_k~2Textaphobes beware!  This month Will and Mike tackle Henrietta Dorothy Everett’s “The Death Mask”, a supernatural farce about termagant wives, gold diggin’ husbands and menacing fabrics.

Story notes:

  • Monty writes,“Going back a few years I light on Mrs Everett’s The Death Mask, of a rather quieter tone on the whole, but with some excellently conceived stories.” ( Some Remarks on Ghost Stories, The Bookman, 1929).  We had our pick of stories from this collection and of course went with the titular (and best) tale.
  • Mrs Everett wrote most of her work under the pseudonym of Theo Douglas, though the anthology ‘The Death-mask’ was published under her own name just three years before her death in 1923, aged 72.  We struggled to find much about Mrs E. online, but did reconstruct her family tree and found out about the tragic and horribly noteworthy death of her Grandfather’s brother!
  • That said, we did find that there is a bundle of papers regarding Mrs Everett’s family, together with that of her husband, at the Naval archives in Greenwich.  Material for a potential thesis? We’d love to know more about her.
  • There’s a good wikipedia article on the complex set of rules that developed around mourning in the Victorian era. It seems like the mourning expectations for women were more arduous than for men, with women being expected to be in mourning for a husband for 1-4 years, while men got away with mourning for a wife for just 3-5 months! By these standings, Tom has done his fair share.
  • The picture above  is the death mask of Grace, Lady Manners of Derbyshire, recorded for posterity after her death.  Photo credit to David Brierley.

Episode 67 – Through a Glass Darkly conference report

Stained glass window, YorkThis episode it’s conference report time! We’ve just returned from Through a Glass Darkly, an M.R. James conference which brought together authors, academics and fans in ghost-haunted York for a 2-day Jamesfest of epic proportions!

The episode features interviews with:

  • Conference organisers Paul M. Chapman, Theresa Dudley and Mark Jones, who told us about how the chance discovery that M.R. James visited York in 1898 sparked the inspiration for the conference.
  • Writer and regular Ghosts and Scholars contributor Mark Valentine, who presented on M.R. James’s scholar protagonist and what they tell us about James, his life and audience.
  • Writer John Reppion, who had just presented on the challenges of adapting ‘Ghost Stories of an Antiquary’ for the graphic novel form.
  • Author Helen Grant, who presented the fascinating true story of Father Reinhardt, the Steinfeld monk who travelled to England to view Steinfeld’s missing stained glass windows, the whereabouts of which was revealed in ‘The Treasure of Abbott Thomas’.
  • Professor Darryl Jones, who told us about his exciting plans for the first full-blown M.R. James biography for over 30 years!

The podcast also features Will and Mike’s thoughts on the rest of the conference, including walking in the footsteps of M.R. James for a stained glass tour of two York churches, and performances from Robert Lloyd Parry and Patrick Smith. You can learn more about all the people we mention at the Friends of Count Magnus website.

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