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Authors: M.R. James

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Curious Warnings - The Great Ghost Stories Of M.R. James

BOOK: Curious Warnings - The Great Ghost Stories Of M.R. James
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“There are all sorts of writers of all sorts of nightmares, but M.R. James wrote the best ghost stories. He may well have created the ghost story in its current form. Nobody can do what he did as well as he could.”

Neil Gaiman

“I have given M.R. James the title of genius, an accolade which should not be lightly bestowed.”

Ruth Rendell

“A writer of great supernatural imagination, a master of style and purity … I believe that it is unlikely his ghost stories will ever be surpassed.”

Christopher Lee

“M.R. James is the most influential British writer of supernatural fiction.”

Ramsey Campbell

“His own subtle and oblique way of constructing narrative has been my dictum: less is more.”
Basil Copper

“M.R. James did more for the ghost story than any other writer. He raised the art of writing tales of terror to a new high level.”

Hugh Lamb

“Stylish, beautifully constructed, mountingly sinister and ultimately frightening tales.”

Peter Haining

“I was agreeably sensible of their eeriness … There is much invention shown in their construction.”

Thomas Hardy

“The name of Montague Rhodes James at once signifies the very best in ghost fiction.”

Mike Ashley

“The tales of M.R. James remain as entertaining, and as implausibly plausible, as ever.”

Michael Cox

“James is perhaps unsurpassed in originality by any living writer.”

Clark Ashton Smith

“The most frightening, learned and humorous ghost stories.”

Sir John Betjeman

“M.R. James is one of horror fiction’s few class acts.”

Geoff Ryman

“A literary weird fictionist of the very first rank.”

H.P. Lovecraft

Also by M.R. James

SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS

Ghost-Stories of an Antiquary (1904)

More Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1911)

A Thin Ghost and Others (1919)

Ander og Trolddom, translated by Ragnhild Undset (1919)

A Warning to the Curious and Other Ghost Stories (1925)

The Collected Ghost Stories of M.R. James (1931)

The Penguin Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James (1931)

Thirteen Ghost Stories (1935)

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1937)

Best Ghost Stories of M.R. James (1944)

Three Ghosts, with H.G. Wells and Rudyard Kipling (1947)

More Ghost Stories (1959)

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1971)

Ghost Stories of M.R. James (1973)

The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James (1984)

Collected Ghost Stories (1985)

The Ghost Stories of M.R. James (1986)

“Casting the Runes” and Other Ghost Stories (1987)

A Warning to the Curious: The Ghost Stories of M.R. James (1987)

The Ghost Stories of M.R. James (1991)

Collected Ghost Stories (1992)

Room 13 and Other Ghost Stories: Elementary Level (1992)

Two Ghost Stories: A Centenary (1993)

Ghost Stories (1994)

The Haunted Dolls’ House, with Robert Louis Stevenson (1995)

Selected Ghost Stories (1995)

A Warning to the Curious (1998)

Casting the Runes (1998)

The Fenstanton Witch and Others: M.R. James in Ghosts and Scholars (1999)

A Warning to the Curious (1999)

The Haunted Dolls’ House and Other Stories (2000)

A Pleasing Terror: The Complete Supernatural Writings of M.R. James (2001)

Collected Ghost Stories (2002)

Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories: The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James Vol.1 (2005)

The House in Picture and Abbott Thomas’s Treasure: Beginner, with F.H. Cornish (2005)

The Haunted Dolls’ House and Other Stories: The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James Vol.2 (2006)

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (2006)

Collected Ghost Stories (2007)

Canon Alberic’s Scrap-book (2011)

Collected Ghost Stories (2011)

SEPARATE PUBLICATIONS

The Five Jars (1922)

Wailing Well (1928)

The Five Jars (1976)

The Five Jars (1995)

MEMOIR

Eton and King’s: Recollections, Mostly Trivial 1875–1925 (1926)

Eton and King’s: Recollections, Mostly Trivial 1875–1925 (2006)

AS EDITOR

Madam Crowl’s Ghost and Other Tales of Mystery, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1923)

AS TRANSLATOR

Hans Andersen: Forty Stories, by Hans Christian Andersen (1930)

The Little Mermaid, by Hans Christian Andersen (1935)

Hans Andersen: Forty-Two Stories, by Hans Christian Andersen (1953)

NON-FICTION

Some Remarks on Ghost Stories (1985)

INTRODUCTIONS

Ghost-Stories of an Antiquary (1904)

The Story of a Troll-Hunt, by James McBryde (1904)

More Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1911)

A Thin Ghost and Others (1919)

The Lion’s Birthday, by Emily Plenderleath Harrison (1920)

Madam Crowl’s Ghost and Other Tales of Mystery, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1923)

Ghosts and Marvels, edited by V.H. Collins (1924)

A Warning to the Curious and Other Ghost Stories (1925)

Uncle Silas, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1926)

The Collected Ghost Stories of M.R. James (1931)

Curious Warnings

The Great Ghost Stories of

M.R. JAMES

150TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Edited with an Afterword by

STEPHEN JONES

Illustrated by

LES EDWARDS

New York • London

This selection and editorial material © 2012 by Stephen Jones

Cover and interior illustrations © 2012 by Les Edwards

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by reviewers, who may quote brief passages in a review. Scanning, uploading, and electronic distribution of this book or the facilitation of the same without the permission of the publisher is prohibited.

Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Any member of educational institutions wishing to photocopy part or all of the work for classroom use or anthology should send inquiries to Permissions c/o Quercus Publishing Inc., 31 West 57
th
Street, 6
th
Floor, New York, NY 10019, or to
[email protected]
.

ISBN 978-1-62365-025-4

Distributed in the United States and Canada by Random House Publisher Services
c/o Random House, 1745 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, institutions, places, and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons—living or dead—events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

www.quercus.com

Contents

Editor’s Note

Ghosts—Treat Them Gently!

Ghost Stories

Canon Alberic’s Scrap-book

Lost Hearts

The Ash-tree

Count Magnus

The Mezzotint

Number 13

“Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad”

The Treasure of Abbot Thomas

The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral

Casting the Runes

Martin’s Close

Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance

The Rose Garden

A School Story

The Tractate Middoth

The Story of a Disappearance and an Appearance

An Episode of Cathedral History

The Diary of Mr. Poynter

The Residence at Whitminster

Two Doctors

The Uncommon Prayer-book

The Five Jars

I: The Discovery

II: The First Jar

III: The Second Jar

IV: The Small People

V: Danger to the Jars

VI: The Cat, Wag, Slim and Others

VII: The Bat-Ball

VIII: Wag at Home

The Haunted Dolls’ House

A Neighbor’s Landmark

After Dark in the Playing Fields

There Was a Man Dwelled by a Churchyard

A View from a Hill

A Warning to the Curious

An Evening’s Entertainment

Wailing Well

Rats

The Experiment: A New Year’s Eve Ghost Story

The Malice of Inanimate Objects

A Vignette

The Bulbul and the Cuckoo: An Indian Folk Tale

Stories I Have Tried to Write

A Night in King’s College Chapel

The Fenstanton Witch

John Humphreys

Marcilly-le-Hayer

The Game of Bear

Speaker Lenthall’s Tomb

BOOK: Curious Warnings - The Great Ghost Stories Of M.R. James
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