Stories that inspired M.R. James

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Episode 70 – Negotium Perambulans by E.F. Benson

March 7, 2019 | Episodes | Comments (21)

E. F. Benson, aged 27This episode Mike and Will grab their guidebook, pack their bucket and spade and head off for a terrifying trip to sunny Cornwall in E.F. Benson’s ‘Negotium Perambulans’.

Big thanks to Richard Crowest of the ‘Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson’ podcast for giving us permission to use extracts from his reading of this story in the episode. You can find out more about Richard, including his E.F. Benson and ‘Short Stories by Saki’ podcasts, at

Show notes:



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  1. Simon Woolley says:

    Richard’s Benson readings are simply AMAZING. The Room in the Tower…..shudder

  2. Sanjay Mathew says:

    Fitt the Third might work as an alternative to Act or Season.

  3. Gary says:

    Great to have Mike and Will back with this cracking episode on E.F. Benson’s short story Negotium Perambulans. I’ve read quite a few of Benson’s tales; two of my favourites being The Face and A Tale of an Empty House. But for some reason I haven’t read Negotium Perambulans, even though the story is in one of the volumes I have of Benson’s ghost stories. Following this podcast I’ll certainly be seeking it out to read over the next couple of days.

    I certainly look forward to listening to these podcasts and I’ve been dipping into many of the earlier episodes. I must say they make absolutely fabulous listening for fans of M.R. James like myself.

    Glad to see that the podcast will continue with many more stories chosen from the ‘James Gang’. I’m certainly looking forward to listening to them. Though I hope I don’t have to wait as long for the next episode as I seemed to have waited for this one! By the way, wonderful readings from Richard Crowest.

    This is a brilliant podcast that I’m always recommending to others who are interested in ghost stories, particularly of the Jamesian variety.

  4. Eddie says:

    Really enjoyed the reading and analysis of the story, in particular the Benson family background. Two fantastic “seasons” and looking forward (and very glad) that you’re carrying on – one of the best podcasts on the web. Keep it up lads!

  5. Another Fred Benson tale with a you-can’t-go-home-again theme is “Pirates.”

  6. MarkB says:

    At about 49:48, I think it was Will who said what sounded like ‘I never went back to Seaburgh’ Was this a reference to A Warning to the Curious, or a true Jamesian slip? Or did I hear it wrong?

    I had just read this story recently, so it was interesting to hear it explored here. Unfortunately, I’m not big on slug monsters. I expect the explicit description of the monster would have worked for many readers at the time. For those exposed to countless movie monsters, it’s always better to leave the creature/monster to the imagination.

  7. Carol M says:

    Really enjoyed this episode as E F Benson is one of my favourite short story authors, next to the great MRJ himself of course. Some think of Benson as James Lite but I think that’s unfair – he can be much more visceral sometimes – think of the climax of the story ‘The Room in the Tower’. And the sheer terror of ‘Caterpillars’.
    So glad that you are carrying on and the line up you’ve planned sounds great. Please cover some LTC Rolt, I came across a reprint of his collection of short stories and was immediately hooked. Sad though to hear of the death of Hugh Lamb, a great anthologist of Victorian and Edwardian supernatural tales, he will be missed. It’s because of his work- and podcasts like this, of course- that many of the classic tales and forgotten authors don’t slip completely into obscurity. Keep up the good work!

  8. Jeff says:

    Good to see you took my comments on Episode 65 on board chaps! 🙂

  9. A Rat in the Wall says:

    I’m glad you guys are back and want to keep going. Negotium Perambulans is a really fun story, I think Lovecraft even references the title in The Dunwich Horror.

    I think Arthur Gray/Ingulphus or the Benson Bros. stories are a good way to go, at least for now. There are collections out there, too, I know A.C. and R.H. Benson share a small Wordsworth volume and Arthur Gray shares a collection with E.G. Swain, Ancient Haunts, which is on Amazon UK for a not too steep price. Arthur Gray’s story ‘The Everlasting Club’ is available online for free on Gutenberg Australia, it’s a neat little tale I’d recommend.

  10. Ed Kent says:

    Well done on ‘Series 2’ guys, some really interesting stories covered. I think going with the James Gang of those who were influenced by James is a great idea for the next series. I’ve recently read the collection of Walter De La Mare’s atmospheric and creepy tales – Out of the Deep. There are some intriguing stories in there which you could look at, ‘Seaton’s Aunt’ and ‘Crewe’ being particularly good.

    Perhaps something by Robert Aickman as well? ‘The Cicerones’ is an especially Jamesian tale.

    Looking forward to hearing where the podcast goes next.

  11. Philip says:

    Excellent podcast, and thanks for introducing me to Richard Crowest. Now I have his whole back catalogue of recordings to get through. Looking forward to the next episode at your earliest convenience (if you were to introduce a subscription model I would sign up).

  12. Luke Hart says:

    Hi Mike & Will – I’m a big fan of your podcast in Australia. So glad to hear you’re doing what I had always hoped you would do after the M.R James stories ran out – focusing on classic ghost & horror stories from Jamesian authors – Le Fanu, E.F Benson, Machen, Lovecraft etc. I can’t wait to hear what stories you guys choose to cover. Especially as you guys like them, not M.R James – who I adore but didn’t always have the best taste in others ghost stories.

  13. Graham says:

    Wonderful episode. Looking forward to ‘Season 3’, whatever it turns out to be.

  14. Miggs says:

    This is a little late, but I’m so happy to have a new (ish) episode! I’m really looking forward to whatever ya’ll have next for the show!

  15. David McGarry says:

    Really enjoying season 2 guys.. Looking forward to the next instalment.

    Does anyone else fall asleep to these podcasts…? They’re not boring, far from it, just relaxing after a long day!


  16. Courtney says:

    Hey guys! Greetings from the U.S.! I’ve been listening to your podcast for quite a while, and just wanted to say I love it!! I was a little worried at the beginning of this episode that you were about to call it quits, so I’m really happy for act 3! Can’t wait to listen to what you have next!!

  17. WHATS NEXT says:

    WHATS NEXT????????

  18. A scary tale! I can see its influence on several of Lovecraft’s stories: The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Dunwich Horror, and Pickman’s Model being among them.

    If you will permit me a plug here: I moderate a Jamesian Facebook Group. If any of your listeners are interested in monthly, online discussions of the M R James Canon, we are: The M R James Ghost Stories Discussion Group.

    I always listen to and recommend your Podcasts when preparing for our discussions. And I’m delighted to hear of your new plans!

  19. Nadia A says:

    Yay, finally we get to E.F Benson! Great episode, it’s such a weird story and totally unexpected. It took me quite some time to get that Benson was the writer of ”Between The Lights”, another story that left me unsettled. He was nearly equal to James in creating deeply disturbing creatures.

    I get lulled to sleep with the podcast, I found the voices and music soothing. Not always though, sometimes I do wake up with creepy music in my ears, hihi!

  20. I know this isn’t the same story but here is a British adaptation of another E.F Benson tale I just stumbles across.

  21. Any chance of you chaps doing an episode on Guy Endor’s weird tale Day of The Dragon? Guy is best known for his short story The Werewolf of Paris that was later filmed in the 30s as The Werewolf of London but Day of The Dragon is easily his best and strangest story. The meddllings of an ostracized scientist awaken terrible entities from the past.

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