Stories that inspired M.R. James

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

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Episode 91 – Let Loose by Mary Cholmondeley

A woodcut of a hand looming over a sleeping man.In the first episode of Season 4 tm, Mike and Will are delighted by Let Loose by Mary Cholmondeley, a tale of crypts, clergymen and crikey, what is that in the dog’s mouth?

Big thanks to Jim Moon for allowing us to use extracts from his excellent reading of the story. You can listen to the whole thing over on the Hypnogoria podcast feed.

Show notes:


Episode 90 – Right Through My Hair by Noel Boston

Norwich Cathedral

Join Will and Mike for haunted cathedrals, lecherous minor canons and hair-based horrors in Noel Boston’s ‘Right Through My Hair’!

Big thanks to Debbie Wedge for providing the readings for this episode.

Show notes


Episode 89 – Cushi

Open your hymn books to episode 89, as we’re back in church for Christopher Woodforde’s “Cushi”: a tale of capering cats, sabotaged surplices and vengeful vergers. Don’t lose your head!

Show notes:

  • Christopher Woodforde studied at Peterhouse, Cambridge before becoming an Anglican priest. He was later Fellow and Chaplain at New College, Oxford, and Dean of Wells (as was Richard Maldon of ‘The Sundial’ fame – Episode 80). He was an antiquarian with a love for stained glass, rather like MR James!
  • ‘A Pad in the Straw’ was his only book of stories. It is currently out of print, but previously available from Sundial Press.
  • Richard Dalby wrote that Woodforde based some of his clerical and antiquarian characters on himself, and many of the locations on the parishes in which he served.
  • In his introduction to ‘A Pad in the Straw’, Lord David Cecil said that “A waft of the uncanny blows through these tales, just enough to make the spine agreeably tingle… The general atmosphere is at once eerie and friendly… The intimate apprehension of landscape and the past gives his tales an unexpected weight and depth. Slight and fanciful though their action is, they are the expression of an imagination soaked through and through in the English scene and in English history.”
  • Hymn number 386 ‘The Sower Went Forth Sowing’ was written by William Bourne, a pastor, for a harvest festival in 1874. And very jolly it is, to: “And then the fan of judgment/Shall winnow from His floor/The chaff into the furnace/That flameth evermore.”




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