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Malignant forces and supernatural visitors haunt this selection of superbly spooky tales
Montague Rhodes James was born on 1 August 1862 near Bury St Edmunds, and he spent long periods of his later life in Suffolk, which provided the setting for many of his ghost stories. He studied at Eton and Kings College, Cambridge, where he was eventually elected Fellow, and then made Provost in 1905. In 1918 he became Provost of Eton. He was a renowed medievalist and biblical scholar, and published works on palaeography, antiquarianism, bibliography and history and guides to Suffolk and Norfolk, as well as editing a collection of ghost stories by Sheridan Le Fanu. However, he remains best known for his own ghost stories, which were published in several collections, including Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1904), A Thin Ghost and Other Stories (1919), A Warning to the Curious (1925) and a collected edition in 1931. M. R. James never married and died on 12 June 1936.
"In M.R. James' stories, the ordinary tips over into an alternative existence that is just as believable" * Guardian * "An original and powerful storyteller.... A gnawing sense of unease, a steady accumulation of sounds, shadows and images finally meet in a single moment of sensational physical horror" * Daily Telegraph * "M R James, who ushered the ghost story into our century, is still quite simply the craftiest" * Independent * "M R James is quite simply the finest writer of ghost stories ever. They're always set in an academic context, about university chaps who find out very nasty things while they're researching. They uncork the wrong bottle, unearth the wrong papers, dig up the wrong place. . . James was provost of Eton and a fellow of Kings College, and the stories have this wonderful candlelit, academic atmosphere, surrounded by incredible nastiness. Tweedy, but unpleasant" -- Christopher Frayling "A master class in creepiness from the Edwardian-era Provost of King's College, Cambridge. James delivers brilliant atmospherics, gnawing disquiet and (above all) horrific denouements created by suggestion rather than ghoulish spectacle" * Independent *