Stories that inspired M.R. James

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

December 24, 2014 | Episodes | Comments (4)

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.


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  1. Hey guys! Loved this year’s Christmas special. I happen to (actually quite strongly) agree with you about the Dickens/James link. Earlier this year I edited and published and an anthology of Dickens’ best ghost stories, which required lots of research and analysis. I’m attaching an excerpt that includes the introduction and two Jamesian stories — “The Hanged Man’s Bride” and “The Trial for Murder” — which I open and close with comparative commentary on Dickens’ influence and themes. Both of these stories had telling impacts on James, and I won’t say much more because I go into those detail in the text. As someone who works in academia I can understand being very hesitant to make connections that aren’t positively obvious, but part of the beauty of being a self-employed anthologist is being able to make informed speculations and deductive connections. Ah yes, and sometime in the future I’ll be tackling both James and J. S. Le Fanu, so I’ll be looking forward to getting my hands dirty deep in your territory soon. Cheers, and happy Christmas!

  2. Elliott James says:

    The BBC has another James story up.this time “The Hex” enjoy until mid January:

  3. Joe Muszynski says:

    We loved this reading! Now, if only my wife would stop saying, “Gabriel Grubb. Gabriel Grubb”!

  4. Dan says:

    I enjoyed this with the exception that Dickens irritates me when chastising men for drinking alone at Christmas… as the husband of someone who doesn’t drink, what business is it of his if I enjoy a few glasses by myself at Yuletide? (I might add that I’m not a miser or a callous sexton!)

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