M.R. James (Montague Rhodes James)
BiographyGoodnestone Parsonage, Kent, UK
Born in 1862, Montague Rhodes James developed a reading habit at an early age, preferring to stay in the library than with friends. He took this with him when he went to study at Eton and then at the King's College, Cambridge, where he became assistant in classical archaeology at the Fitzwilliam museum. After writing a dissertation: "The Apocalypse of St. Peter", he became a Fellow of King's, and then Dean. Although he was renowned in some circles for his biographies, studies into antiques, reviews and palaeography, it was his ghost stories that he would be remembered for. Read more... in examining the supernatural, and his stories were always written in a way so the reader uses their imagination. The real horror is often kept to the reader's mind. Celebrated cult horror novelist and story writer H.P. Lovecraft was a fan, and wrote a review on his work: "...gifted with an almost diabolic power of calling horror by gentle steps from the midst of prosaic daily life." he says, also adding: "Dr. James has, it is clear, an intelligent and scientific knowledge of human nerves and feelings; and knows just how to apportion statement, imagery, and subtle suggestions in order to secure the best results with his readers." Although largely ignored by filmmakers - Curse of the Demon (1957) - is one exception), his work has a dedicated fan base, and the BBC filmed several of his stories in the 1970s, wisely titling them under the series "A Ghost Story for Christmas". In 2000, horror legend Christopher Lee jumped at the chance to read four of James' stories in another Christmas special screened on BBC2. James' most famous works include "Ghost Stories of an Antiquary", "The Five Jars", "A Warning to the Curious and other Ghost Stories" and "The Collected Ghost Stories of M. R. James".