Stories that inspired M.R. James

Twelve tales of terror recommended by the master of the genre!

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Episode 76 – How Fear Departed From the Long Gallery

March 29, 2020 | Episodes | Comments (11)

E. F. Benson, aged 27

We liven up our social distancing by finishing off the Benson boys, with Fred’s How Fear Departed From the Long Gallery.  Dirty Dick gets his comeuppance for a murderous deed, but can the ghosts of his victims be laid to rest?

Trigger warning for gratuitous violence against children.  And yes, we do mean it this time!

Thank you again to the fabulous 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



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  1. Kevin Travers says:

    Hey guys, thanks for another great episode! It was especially good to see in my feed this week, of all weeks. I’m a big fan and have listened to every episode more than once in the past couple years.
    I’ve really come to love E.F. Benson since you covered ‘Negotium Perambulans’ and this was my first experience with ‘Long Gallery’. I’m a sucker for old families with a long folk history, possibly because, as an American, this is a real novelty.
    I really enjoyed the story but I admit that I found the ending to be slightly sinister. I thought that final bit was really chilling, that despite curse being lifted, at least temporarily, the twins had not been laid to rest. Even with their gruesome end and the history of the curse, they’ve become just another tale for an eccentric family to tell. I wondered if this was a comment on such families as the Peverills, slightly careless and cavalier about human life, hawks even. The shifts in tone seemed to reveal to me a darkness under all this whimsical politeness. I don’t know, am I off base?
    Either way, great story and appreciate your thoughts as usual. I’m really into James and the gang because of you and Mark Gatiss, so a debt is owed.
    Hope all is well with you and yours!
    Kevin (Philadelphia)

    ps attempted to leave this comment earlier but it seemed to disappear, apologies if two comments show up in a day or two!

  2. Oliver Sampson says:

    Another good one and very much needed at this time!

  3. Eddie says:

    A nice surprise lads and a good ghost story as well. Keep safe and keep them coming!

  4. SRebInNH says:

    It warmed my tender girl’s heart. 😉

  5. Nadia says:

    Another EF Benson story! This is just a cute little ghost story, kind of feel-good in mood. I was surprised when I read a story of his that was sweet and not sinister. It’s not scary, but I liked that it wasn’t what I had expected.

    Thank you for all your hard work and take care!

  6. Steve Dempsey says:

    Robert Lloyd Parry did a reading performance of this, last year I think. It was excellent and really brought out the comedic elements.

  7. Mike says:

    Thanks for your comments everyone! Hope you are all safe and well.

  8. Robert Maitland says:

    I see someone else has read Roger Luckhurst’s Corridors: Passages of Modernity.

  9. MarkB says:

    Just getting to this after a long internet break. My impression was that the sudden happy ending could be justified by the children only turning back on others what they brought to the ‘haunting.’ So if they hadn’t been harrassed – and shot at! – there would never have been any terrible outcomes. Onw creates one’s own curse.

  10. craig lancaster marr says:

    Great story but is there any chance you can tweak the recording as Mike’s contributions are quite muffled?

  11. Andrew M says:

    Finally got round to this episode (I like to keep some in reserve). I am familiar with the story, but while listening suddenly recalled a visit to Littlecote house while I was at school. There was a story told then about a newborn being thrown in the fire and I wondered if that had inspired Benson. It is included in the Wikipedia entry for Littlecote

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