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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 79 – The Seventeenth Hole at Duncaster

PanToday we head to East Anglia for a round of golf in the company of enthusiastic James fan H.R. Wakefield. No whistling ‘ere though – you might just wake up something nasty…

  • Wakefield published seven volumes of ghost stories between 1928 and 1961, but also wrote three detective novels and two non-fiction ‘true crime’ studies.
  • He served in the military and as a private secretary to his father, a bishop, before moving to the publishing industry, where he spent most of his working life and which is reflected in a lot of his stories. He was also a keen sportsman, reflected in his stories which feature a lot of golf!
  • Much of his personal life was opaque until recently, when Barbara Rodin tracked down a living relative. The picture she painted of Wakefield was not entirely endearing. Barbara’s introduction to the Ash Tree Press edition of Old Man’s Beard, Wakefield’s third volume of ghost stories, sets out this more intimate biography (trigger warning for the tormenting of small children and cats).
  • M.R. James wrote that Wakefield’s first volume of ghosts stories, They Return at Evening “gives us a mixed bag, from which I should remove one or two that leave a nasty taste. Among the residue are some admirable pieces, very inventive.”
  • True to this description, many of Wakefield’s ghost stories contain brash and depressing misogyny. This is especially so in those stories written after his first volume and, perhaps as a result, we can’t find any of his collections in print. Ash Tree Press editions of his volumes of ghost stories are however available as ebooks and include Rodin’s honest assessment of his writing.
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Episode 76 – How Fear Departed From the Long Gallery

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 www.corvidae.co.uk.

 

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Ep74 – Review of Martin’s Close on BBC4

Capaldi_BBC4Excitement abounds in the podcast house as Big Santy C leaves us a new BBC Ghost Story for Christmas, courtesy of BBC4 and Mr Mark Gatiss!  Will and Mike offer their humble thoughts on this festive treat.

Show notes:

Image and excerpts from Radio Times and BBC4.

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