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M.R. James

M. R. James (1 August, 1862 – 12 June, 1936)

Montague Rhodes James is best remembered for his ghost stories which are the finest in English literature.
James was born in Goodnestone Parsonage in Kent, England. From the age of three (1865) until 1909 his home was at the Rectory in Great Livermere, Suffolk. Several of the ghost stories are set in Suffolk, including "'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad'", "A Warning to the Curious", "Rats" and "A Vignette". King's College, Cambridge also provides settings for several of his tales.
At King′s College, James studied the classics and used to read his new ghost stories to friends at Christmas time.
One day he discovered a manuscript fragment in the ruins of the abbey at Bury St Edmunds, West Suffolk, in 1902. There, archeologists found graves of several twelfth-century abbots.
James's ghost stories were published in a series of collections. The classic James′s tale usually hs includes the following key elements:

  • a setting in an English village or a seaside town, an ancient town in France, Denmark or Sweden, or an abbey or university.
  • a naive gentleman-scholar as protagonist.
  • the discovery of an old book or other antiquarian object that somehow calls a supernatural menace, usually from beyond the grave.

  • According to James, the story must "put the reader into the position of telling himself: 'If I'm not careful, something of this kind may happen to me!'"

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