Stories that inspired M.R. James

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

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Episode 81 – The Demoniac Goat by M.P. Dare

Kiss of shameThis episode Mike and Will brace themselves for the ‘appalling stench of goat, cordite, sulphur, and burning human flesh’ in M.P. Dare’s The Demoniac Goat. Lovely!

Also in this episode we speak to actor Robert Lloyd Parry and publisher Brian J. Showers about ‘Ghosts of the Chit-chat’, their soon to be published new anthology of ghost stories from authors who, alongside M.R. James, were members of the Chit-Chat Club at Cambridge University. You can find out more about and order the book itself at the Swan River Press website. You can also visit Robert’s website for a upcoming schedule of live performances, both in theatres and online.

Show notes

  • Marcus Paul Dare (The Haunted Library)
    Much of the biographical information we used on M.P. Dare came from the introduction to the Ash Tree Press edition of ‘Unholy Relics’ but also from this excellent article on The Haunted Library.
  • Unholy Relics (Ash Tree Press @
    This story was originally published in Dare’s ‘Unholy Relics’ collection in 1947. Nowadays the easiest way to get hold of it is via Ash Tree Press’s ebook, which contains an excellent introduction by Reg Meuross as well as extracts from Dare’s book ‘Indian Underworld’.
  • Shadows of the Master by Mike Ashley (Ghosts & Scholars)
    The essay that drew M.P. Dare to our attention was ‘Shadows of the Master’ by Mike Ashley, which highlighted a number of authors who wrote stories in the Jamesian tradition.
  • The Peak Cavern (
    Better known by its nickname ‘The Devil’s Arse’, this cave near Castleton in Derbyshire could have provided inspiration for M.P. Dare when writing this story.
  • The Eldon Hole (
    Similarly to the above, this famous crevasse on a hilltop near Castleton may have provided inspiration. Legends state that the Eldon Hole is bottomless, or that it leads straight down to hell!
  • Offa of Mercia (Wikipedia)
    The silver coins found by the dastardly Reverend Ashley Tutor were said to be pennies from the reign of Offa, who ruled the Kingdom of Mercia in modern day England during the 8th century.
  • Crockford’s Clerical Directory (
    Since 1858 Crockford’s Clerical Directory as been the authoritative directory of the Anglican clergy. Previously it was a yearly publication, but can now be searched online.
  • Cademan Wood (Google maps)
    Searches for ‘Cademan Tor’ will draw a blank, but the name ‘Cademan’ in most associated with this area in north west Leicestershire.
  • Asmodeus (wikipedia)
    The titular goat in this story is named after this demon from Judeo-Islamic lore.
  • Apollo and Lugh (wikipedia)
    The god supposedly represented on this altar in this story is a compound of these two Roman and Celtic deities.
  • Osculum Infame (wikipedia)
    The ‘kiss of shame’ was an act believed by witch hunters to be carried out by witches upon meeting the devil!
  • The Goat of Mendes (wikipedia)
    The “Goat of Mendes” was a term invented by French occultist Levi Eliphas in the 19th century, drawing on representations of half men/half goat devils and deities across the western world such as Pan, Baphomet and Mendes, a Greek god.

Finally, here’s the picture of M.P. Dare in his pants. Thankfully it is only small. The image I mean.


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