Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories

By M. R. James; Michael Cox | Go to book overview
Save to active project



ONE writer dominates the modem English ghost story: M. R. James, without whom no anthology of supernatural fiction would be complete. Few authors in this small but fertile corner of English fiction have had James's ability to please both critics and enthusiasts. He continues to be packaged for popular consumption, mythologized as one of those 'masters of the macabre' like Edgar Allan Poe or Bram Stoker, his stories having been adapted, usually unsatisfactorily, for television and the cinema and popularized, more successfully, through radio readings and recordings. All this would have amused—and probably surprised—him; for, somewhat like the fantasies of Lewis Carroll, Tolkien, or C. S. Lewis, James's stories were written in the interstices of a busy academic life, and for James himself were incidental to more important work.

Montague Rhodes James was the youngest child and third son of Herbert James, a scholarly and genial Evangelical clergyman, and his wife Mary Emily (nee Horton), the daughter of a distinguished naval officer. In 1865, when Montague was 3, the family moved from his birthplace at Goodnestone next Wingham in Kent to the Suffolk village of Great Livermere, near Bury St Edmunds. The white-walled, slate-roofed rectory on the edge of Livermere Park appears in James's posthumously published ghost story 'A Vignette', whilst East Anglia in general provided settings for some of his most memorable tales—for instance, Burnstow (based on Felixstowe) in '“Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad”', or the fond evocation of Aldeburgh (called Seaburgh), where his grandmother had lived, in 'A Warning to the Curious'. The four children—Sydney, Herbert ('Ber'), Grace, and Montague—were brought up in what Sydney James called a 'devotional' atmosphere, which meant morning and evening prayers, a daily psalm and hymns, Bible study, and


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 360

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?