Stories that inspired M.R. James

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

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Episode 88 – Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book Revisited

Illustration from the Codex GigasJoin Mike and Will for a special 10th anniversary (give or take a few months) special in which your now-aged hosts look back over a decade of M.R. James podcasting and return to the story that started it all, Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook! You can listen to when we originally covered this story all the way back in episode one. Will the quality of our story commentary have improved? Listen and find out!

Big thanks to Debbie Wedge who returns once again as the reader for this episode.


  • Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges (Google Maps)
    Some lovely 360 degree photography of this story’s real-world locations have been added to Google Maps since the last time we covered this story. You can now explore the town, the cathedral interior and even spot the famous stuffed crocodile!  st’s name f   ro
  • Read about the turbulent life of the read Saint Bertrand. No mention of the crocodile incident sadly.
  • Christopher Plantin (wikipedia)
    In the story, Dennistoun was singularly unimpressed by the prospect of discovering a book published by this 16th-century Belgian printer and publisher.
  • William Harrison Ainsworth’s Old Saint Paul’s. (Getty Images)
    Dennistoun compares the scrapbooks illustration of King Solomon and the demon to this scene from the popular novel ‘Old Saint Paul’s’ by William Harrison Ainsworth. You can read the scene in question by going here and searching for ‘THE MOSAICAL RODS 95′.
  • Arthur Shipley (wikipedia)
    The ‘lecturer on morphology’ mentioned in this story is a reference to M.R. James’s friend Arthur Shipley, who published a textbook called Zoology of the Invertabrata, which mentions ‘gigantic’ South African spiders that live in holes and prey on small birds.
  • Key of Solomon (wikipedia)
    In the episode, we mention this famous grimoire, which purports to be written by the demon-summoning old testament monarch King Solomon.
  • Codex Gigas (wikipedia)
    Patrick Murphy suggests that the illustrations in the titular scrapbook could have been inspired in part by this gigantic illuminated manuscript, also known as the ‘devil’s bible’. Check out this huge demon in a furry red loincloth!

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