Stories that inspired M.R. James

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

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Halloween treat: our (idiosyncratic) profile of Monty

Specially for Halloween, we’ve profiled MR James for the excellent biographical site The Fertile Fact.

#21. “Something of this kind may happen to me!”: MR James

Mike Taylor and Will Ross host A Podcast to the Curious, a podcast dedicated to the ghost stories of Montague Rhodes James (1862–1936). With components that might include (but not limited to) desolate Suffolk coastlines, eerie European cathedrals and (almost invariably) sleeping ghosts of an antiquarian nature, James’ fiction casts the past as a Pandora’s box of horrors best left alone (a strange stance given his day job as a medieval scholar). To many, he’s also usurped Dickens as laureate of ghoulish Christmas (thanks in no small part to the BBC’s yuletide tradition of screening adaptations of his stories during the 1970s). A writer more comfortable with the past than the present, he’d be looking for kindred bookish spirits were he around today say Mike and Will, who select five things about the modern world he might have found to his archaic tastes.

Read the rest of our profile at The Fertile Fact – let us know what you think!

New Website Feature! M.R. James Maps and More…

Old Map of BritainRegular listeners will have noticed that we are more than a little bit obsessed with working out the real-world locations that M.R. James may have had in mind for his stories. Well this obsession has led us to create an exciting new feature for the podcast website!

We are calling it ‘Monty’s World’, and it is an interactive map featuring locations not only mentioned in M.R. James’s stories, but also various locations that were important to James during his lifetime such as his childhood home at Great Livermere. There are currently nearly 50 locations featured but we plan to keep adding new locations as we cover them in the stories (if not sooner). Click the map to the right to view it now!

If you know any locations not already featured which you think should be added please drop us an email at Also any corrections or suggestions for improvements (we are aware that the mobile/tablet browsing experience is pretty horrible at present) can be sent to the same address.

A Visit to Martin’s Close (Video)

The next story we will be covering is ‘Martin’s Close’ by M.R. James, and although in the story it is simply described as ‘a parish in the west’, James later admitted in the introduction to the 1931 Complete Ghost Stories that the location that inspired the story was Sampford Courtney in Devon.

Could we resist the temptation to pop down to Devon and have a snoop around? We could not.

We will provide more details on what we found in the fourthcoming episode on Martin’s Close, including mentions of King’s College inside the church, names used by James in the story found on gravestones and suspicious looking pools of water just outside the village!

The highlight of the trip was a visit to the New Inn, the pub which features in some of the more scary moments from the story, where we interviewed Malcomn the landlord who was a goldmine of information on all the ghostly happenings in the inn and local area.

We will be talking about our trip in greater detail in the next episode of the podcast, which will hopefully by out by next weekend.

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