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Montague Rhodes James

(1862 - 1936)

Montague Rhodes James, born on August 1, 1862, was a distinguished medieval scholar and provost of King's College, Cambridge, as well as of Eton College. Although he was renowned in the academic world for his significant contributions to the study of biblical texts and medieval manuscripts, it is as a writer of ghost stories for which he is most celebrated.

James redefined the ghost story genre with his unique style that incorporated scholarly detail, as is evident in his collection of short stories. Amongst his influential works are "Ghost Stories of an Antiquary," "More Ghost Stories," and "A Thin Ghost and Others," all of which present a sophisticated yet chilling narrative framework that threw Victorian ghost story traditions into a more modern light, influencing subsequent horror literature.

His ability to blend the antiquarian settings with creepy and unsettling horror established a new aesthetic in supernatural fiction. M.R. James' stories typically feature protagonists that are somewhat reflective of himself; scholars who inadvertently stumble upon arcane and esoteric knowledge that lead them into confrontations with the supernatural.

James' legacy endures in the works of contemporary horror writers and in the tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas, a nod to his preference for reciting his tales to friends during the Yuletide season. M.R. James passed away on June 12, 1936, leaving behind a body of work that continues to be revered by aficionados of the ghost story genre.

Short Stories member since November 2023