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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 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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Episode 73 – Out of the sea by A.C. Benson

A.C. BensonThis episode Mike and Will indulge in murder, moralising and supernatural goat-based mayhem in A.C. Benson’s ‘Out of the Sea’.

Big thanks to our reader for this episode Debbie Wedge, and don’t forget to check out her M.R. James-themed t-shirt designs, ‘No diggin’ ere‘ and ‘Barchestering‘!

Notes:

  • A.C. Benson (Wikipedia)
    A.C. Benson was one of MRJ’s closest friends throughout his life. They attended prep school, Eton and King’s College together, worked together in later life and remained regular correspondents right up until Benson’s death in 1925.
  • ‘Out of the sea’ (full story – Project Gutenberg)
    You can read this story online, or download as a free ebook at Project Gutenberg. The story features in Benson’s 1904 collection ‘The Isles of Sunset’.
  • Wreckers (wikipedia)
    In this episode we speculated that Mister Grimston might have been involved in ‘Wrecking’, the act of luring passing ships into dangerous waters to sink them so their cargo could be stolen.
  • A.C. Benson and Cambridge (Ged Martin)
    An extended essay about A.C. Benson that touches on his whole life at Cambridge, as well as his relationship with his father and his mental health.
  • Why is the Devil also a goat? (Refinery29.com)
    This article explores why goats became associated with evil in both religious symbolism and popular culture.
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Episode 71 – An Antiquary’s Ghost Story by Augustus Jessopp

Augustus JessoppThis episode Mike & Will kick off Season 3 with ‘An Antiquary’s Ghost Story’ by Augustus Jessopp! Scroll down for a full list of the ‘James Gang’ authors we will be covering over the next 15 episodes.

Big thanks to our reader for this episode, Debbie Wedge!

 

Show notes:

 

Season 3: The James Gang

Over the next 15 episodes we will be looking at stories from ‘The James Gang’, the group comprising authors which were either personal acquaintances of M.R. James, or whose stories were directly inspired by his work. The authors we are covering are:

  • Augustus Jessop
  • Adrian Ross
  • Arthur Benson
  • Robert Hugh Benson
  • E.F. Benson
  • E.G. Swain
  • Ingulphus (Arthur Gray)
  • H. Russell Wakefield
  • R.H. Malden
  • M.P. Dare
  • Andrew Caldecott
  • L.T.C Rolt
  • A.N.L Munby
  • Christopher Woodforde
  • Noel Boston
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