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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 83 – A Room in a Rectory

Church 2 by Garry Platt

This episode Will and Mike hitch up their cassocks, pack their prayer books and head to ‘Southshire’ to open ‘A Room in a Rectory’ by Sir Andrew Caldecott!

Big thanks to Kirsty who provided the readings for this episode, and to Garry Platt who provided the photo that accompanies this episode. You can see more of Garry’s photos at his Instagram account.

Show notes:

  • Sir Andrew Caldecott (wikipedia)
    You can find out about Caldecott’s life and exalted career in the Colonial Office at his wikipedia page.
  • ‘Not Exactly Ghosts’ (Project Gutenberg Australia)
    While Caldecott’s stories are not quite out of copyright in most countries, you can still read the volume of ghost stories that ‘A Room in a Rectory’ comes from in its entirety online at Project Gutenberg Australia.
  • St Michael defeating Satan (wikipedia)
    If you are trying to visualise the stained glass window that features in this story, head over to this wikipedia page where you can see a number of artistic interpretations of this very scene.
  • Hymns Ancient and Modern (37mb PDF)
    This story features a crackingly devilish inversion of a hymn from the hymn book ‘Hymns Ancient and Modern’. You can read the original version in this PDF, hymn number 335.
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Episode 78 – Brother John’s Bequest by Arthur Gray

Arthur Gray - Tedious Brief Tales of Granta and GramayeThis episode Mike and Will travel back to 16th century Cambridge to get acquainted with a rather unsavory guest at Jesus College in ‘Brother John’s Bequest‘ by Arthur Gray. Booze, burials and bell-book-and-candle are the order of the day here, with a side order of spitting. Eww.

Big thanks to Kirsty for providing the excellent readings for this episode!

Notes

  • Arthur Gray (Ghosts & Scholars)
    This excellent Ghosts & Scholars article by Rosemary Pardoe provides biographical information on Arthur Gray, as well as plot synopses for all the stories in ‘Tedious Brief Tales of Granta and Gramarye’. It also contains the poem that we mention in this episode, published in 1911, which speculated about the identity of the then-mysterious ‘Ingulphus’!
  • Ingulf, Benedictine abbot of Crowland (wikipedia)
    The 11th century monk Ingulf (or Ingulphus in Latin) is where Arthur Gray borrowed his pseudonym. Ingulf’s writings were studied extensively by historians but his name became a byword for unreliability when the works were found to be a forgery, written long after his death!
  • Arthur Gray and the Ghost Club (anilbalan.com)
    This blog post discusses Gray’s most famous story The Everlasting Club, mentioning how it quickly came to be part of the lore of Jesus College.
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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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