Episode 42 – Christmas bonus – The goblins who stole a sexton by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens in a Christmas hatSeason’s greetings listeners!

We have a Christmas bonus episode for you here, an exclusive readings of one of Charles Dickens’s supernatural Christmas tales ‘The Story of the Goblin who Stole a Sexton‘ which appeared as part of The Pickwick Papers in 1836.

For more information on Charles Dickens and M.R. James, check out Episode 41 in which we talk to M.R. James scholar Jane Mainley-Piddock.


Episode 41 – The MR James and Charles Dickens Christmas Special (with last minute gift guide!)

Seasons greetings James fans! In this episode, Will and Mike take a further turn towards the Victorian by pairing up James with his great literary love, Mr Charles Dickens.  Just what influence did he have on James? Lest their amateur speculations take a less than academically rigorous turn, they are joined by James expert Jane Mainley Piddock (@jmainpidd), to tell us all about Monty’s strange fascination with Dickens’ unfinished tale, Edwin Drood.

Show notes:

  • Jane’s website contains fascinating articles on MRJ and Edwin Drood, spiders, cats and much much more!
  • Charles Dickens’ Ghost Stories: your hosts mentioned The Haunted House, The Trial for Murder and of course the Signal Man, available as a single download from Project Gutenburg.  The Signal Man was one of Lawrence Gordon Clarke’s best Ghost Stories for Christmas and is available in the BFI box set.
  • Edwin Drood – do explore the mystery for yourself.  Our money is on Jasper having done it, or tried to do it, or… well, you decide! You can learn more about MRJ’s Drood-inspired tale “An Episode of Cathedral History” in episode 18.

And lest we forget, Will and Mike found time for Christmas gifts:

  • Curious Warnings, the most sumptuous edition of MRJ’s tales currently  in print.
  • Alisdair Wood’s (@alisdair_wood) illustrations have graced many an episode of the podcast and his MRJ postcards were one of the highlights of last year.  Will is particularly excited by his postcards of houses from horror movies.  The bloody envelope is a nice touch.
  • The Christmas edition of Eerie (#6), published this month, came with an unsettling adaptation of the Ash Tree courtesy of Kelley Jones.  It also promises “sickening stories of festive phantoms and pernicious pastries”.  Available to buy as a download if you can’t make it to a comic shop.
  • “I See A Shadow Coming – the Illustro Obscurum Yuletide Compendium Volume I”.  A lovely looking new zine, limited to 40 copies and now sadly SOLD OUT!  But do watch that space, they clearly have plans for more wierd fic wonderfulness in the coming year. Mike found the whole URL rather a tongue twister: just to clarify that it is
  • AN Donaldson’s (@ANDauthor) new Lovecraft-meets-Solzhenitsyn novel Death Sentence, which will give you second thoughts about pining for snow this Christmas. If you haven’t already, do read Alisdair’s first novel Prospero’s Mirror, and listen to our interview with him from May last year.
  • Helen Grant’s (@helengrantsays) new novel Silent Saturday will make you think twice about this newfangled interest in urban exploration.  You might also like Helen’s Jamesian novel The Glass Demon.  Helen joined us to discuss Marcilly-le-Hayer earlier this year.



Episode 40 – The Experiment

Bishop John MooreThis week Mike and Will attempt some foul necromancy with MR James’ little-known tale ‘The Experiment’.  Ghosts and Scholars described it as “weak and difficult”  story: can your hosts revive it from the dead?

Story notes

  • Rosemary and Daroll Pardoe’s invaluable notes, from Ghosts and Scholars
  • Bishop Moore: a hardcore bibliophile after James’ own heart, his manuscript collection doubled the size of the Cambridge University Library when it was purchased in 1714.
  • Was the murder of the rector of Rockland St Peter on Twelth Night in 1608 one of James’ inspirations for this story?
  • Will and Mike also investigated some spooky goings on at Mill Hill Surgery: do check out the Halloween special of BBC soap Doctors before it disappears from iPlayer.