Stories that inspired M.R. James

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Episode 71 – An Antiquary’s Ghost Story by Augustus Jessopp

August 21, 2019 | Episodes | Comments (14)

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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  1. Jeff says:

    Looking forward to this new theme.


    Launceston is in Cornwall 😉

  2. Thank you, Mike and Will, for presenting this cute tale, by an author who was previously an unknown to me. While it wasn’t scary: why do we assume that a ghost story has to be scary? Ghosts are no different from the rest of us, and most of us aren’t scary: at least, not most of the time.

    I don’t think that you were reading too much into the story. There were undoubtedly influences upon James emanating from it, and in the absence of a clear explanation by James as to what they were, speculation is all we can do.

    I’m looking forward to the new Podcast Season!

  3. A Rat in the Wall says:

    I’m glad you guys are finally back. This theme is VERY promising, there’s some great names in there. The Benson Bros. are all quite good. And there’s some in there I’ve never even heard of!

    I was so excited to listen to the new episode that I didn’t read the story first… But I think you guys are certainly on to something. We all love that image of James as this genius who wrote a perfect story in one go, coming out of the study with the ink still wet on the page, but like all writers, he’s a culmination of inspirations and experiences, all filtered through his own imaginative power.

  4. Steve Dempsey says:

    It’s great that you’re back, and a fun episode. Here’s the painting, A Dead Soldier, now thought to be Italian rather than by Velázquez:

    Henry and Horace Walpole both seem to have brown,tending to red, hair. I’d guess the paintings got darker over time:

  5. Margo says:

    Yes, you could do an entire podcast or maybe 7 podcasts about the Wiilliam of Norwich translation. The podcast Medieval Death Trip has done 7 different episodes covering different aspects of the Jessopp and James translation of the text of The Life and Miracles of William of Norwich.

    Looking forward to season 3.

  6. Andrew says:

    Ooh, fab. And these are some good names, including a handful I’ve never heard of.

    I’m a bit surprised at the absence of Eleanor Scott, as I was reading Celui-là recently, and it’s more Jamesian than some of Monty’s stuff. It starts with a visit to a small Breton town where there’s a nervous curé, and the landscape is heath, gorse, heather and shingle, then then one evening the protagonist sees a figure moving “at incredible speed up and down a short stretch of beach waving its draped arms” and so on.

    Still, 50% of the Benson children means I can’t complain.

  7. Nadia A says:

    Welcome back!

    I know Jessop from ”The Phantom Coach”, I had no idea he moved in the same circles as James. His stories are very harmless pleasant horrors, though they gave me a fright as a child.
    Thank you for all the research your giving to this season. It’s nice to put a face behind the authors of stories that I read from my childhood to today. Not sure I recognise all the names on the list except for EF Benson, this will be super fun.

  8. Jack says:

    Thanks for another relevant story. I enjoyed this and really hope that decide you an keep this podcast up for many years to come. I have an audiobook of all of M. R. James stories, and everytime I decide to listen to one of them, I always follow it up by listening to the associated podcast. In a couple of cases I discovered that I was actually confused about the story until you clarified something. Thanks and keep it up.

  9. Laura Humphrey says:

    Celui La , my favourite tale, by Eleanor Scott, it would be wonderful if you included anything from Randalls Round

  10. Mark J says:

    Great to hear you guys again. I really enjoyed the episode and look forward to the rest of the season.

  11. james this says:


  12. james this says:


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