Ghost Stories of An Antiquary by M. R. James


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Edward Arnold, 1906. Third Impression. Four Illustrations by the late James McBride, a close friend of the author. Published two years after the 1st impression. Original unbleached linen, titles to upper board in black, rules to same in red. Publisher's original light tan buckram,  rubbed & lightly soiled, corners a little rounded, a little wear at spine tips, hinges sound, binding firm & square. Very good copy, complete & attractive edition of an iconic volume increasingly difficult to track down.

'This is the classic ghost story collection, the centre piece of any serious collection of ghost story fiction. An important book of Ghost stories and regarded as M R James’s first and best book.

Montague Rhodes James (1862 – 1936), who used the publication name M. R. James, was an English medieval scholar and provost of King's College, Cambridge (1905–1918), and of Eton College (1918–1936). Though James's work as a medievalist and scholar is still highly regarded, he is best remembered for his ghost stories, which some regard as among the best in the genre. James redefined the ghost story for the new century by abandoning many of the formal Gothic clichés of his predecessors and using more realistic contemporary settings. However, James's protagonists and plots tend to reflect his own antiquarian interests. Accordingly, he is known as the originator of the "antiquarian ghost story"

This is the first collection of M.R. James' ghost stories, containing eight stories that have become classics of the genre, namely:

"Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book"
"Lost Hearts"
"The Mezzotint"
"The Ash-tree"
"Number 13"
"Count Magnus"
"'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad'"
"The Treasure of Abbot Thomas"

As Nigel Kneale said in the introduction to the Folio Society edition of Ghost Stories of M. R. James, "In an age where every man is his own psychologist, M. R. James looks like rich and promising material.. There must have been times when it was hard to be Monty James." Or, to put it another way, "Although James conjures up strange beasts and supernatural manifestations, the shock effect of his stories is usually strongest when he is dealing in physical mutilation and abnormality, generally sketched in with the lightest of pens.

After Jonathan Miller adapted "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad" for Omnibus in 1968, several stories from the collection were adapted as the BBC's yearly Ghost Story for Christmas strand, including "Lost Hearts", "The Treasure of Abbot Thomas", "The Ash-tree" and "Number 13".
"Whistle and I'll Come to You" was also heavily adapted by Neil Cross for broadcast on Christmas Eve 2010.'