M.R. James (c. 1900)

Montague Rhodes James, better known as M. R. James, (August 1, 1862 - June 12, 1936) was a British scholar, story teller and writer. He is best known for his ghost stories and for developing some of the elements that are still used in that genre. His writings influenced H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell and John Betjeman. James also influenced radio, film, television and music works.

Most of his ghost stories were originally written to be read aloud to friends.


Ghost story anthologies

Front cover of a 1911 edition of More Ghost Stories of an Antiquary.

Front cover of a 1919 edition of A Thin Ghost and Others.

Front cover of a 1925 edition of A Warning to the Curious and Other Stories.

Other short stories

Travel guidebooks

  • Abbeys (1926)
  • Suffolk and Norfolk (1930)

Children's books

M.R. James also wrote entries for the 1912 second supplement of the multi-volume reference work The Dictionary of National Biography. He wrote and edited numerous scholarly works on Bible studies and medieval English history, which were intended for specialists rather than for the general reader.

As well as writing his own ghost stories, M.R. James also championed the works of the Irish author Sheridan Le Fanu (1844-1873). James edited an edition of Le Fanu's Madame Crow's Ghost, which was published in 1923, and en edition of Le Fanu's Uncle Silas, which was published in 1926. James wrote introductions for both of those books. In his introduction to Madame Crow's Ghost, M.R. James describes Sheridan Le Fanu as, "absolutely in the first rank as a writer of ghost stories".

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