Collected Ghost Stories

By M.R. James,

Book cover of Collected Ghost Stories

Book description

M.R. James is probably the finest ghost-story writer England has ever produced. These tales are not only classics of their genre, but are also superb examples of beautifully-paced understatement, convincing background and chilling terror.

As well as the preface, there is a fascinating tail-piece by M.R. James, 'Stories I Have…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked Collected Ghost Stories as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The other recommendations on my list are titles that will help you if you want to calm yourself down, maybe even get some sleep, whilst staying in a haunted house. But maybe you want to lean into the atmosphere. If that’s the case, you need M. R. James. 

His ghosts are rarely glimpsed clearly, you get troubling hints of their appearance, or you just see the horrible things they have done to their victims, and that makes them all the more terrifying. In these stories, anything could turn on you: a doll’s house, your Latin homework, the advert you see…

From Lauren's list on books to read in a haunted house.

Although he only ever wrote one story actually set at Christmas, M. R. James and his ghost stories have become forever linked to the festive season. This began in the early 1890s when, while Provost of King’s College, Cambridge, he read his stories aloud to the undergraduate members of the college’s Chit-Chat-Club on Christmas Eve. The connection was cemented in the 1970s through Lawrence Gordon Clark’s annual adaptations for the BBC’s A Ghost Story for Christmas, of which I was a devotee. I didn’t start avidly reading James until buying this collection in the 1990s. Anyone familiar with…

From Andi's list on ghostly Christmas stories.

I still cherish the fragile old blue hardback my father gave me (or possibly let me half-inch), introducing me to James’s magic. James is the only writer who’s actually scared me – and for ghosts, that’s the true measure of a world that’s got you in its claws. James begins by heaping up the mundane details of scholarship and genteel tourism, sometimes to the point where he’s mischievously playing with your patience – so when the horror touches its teeth to the protagonist, you almost feel the bite in your own skin. His old world is now pretty exotic to…

When I first set out to write a horror novel, I wanted to read as many “scary” books as possible to get in the mindset. My goal was to indeed be scared for the enjoyment of it, but there was another reason behind it – to discover what exactly scared me and why. My goal was to then apply this to my book. M.R. James was recommended to me by a friend, and it certainly gave me the heebie-jeebies almost immediately. I especially love the story, "Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad.” Talk about creepy!


From Amie's list on that will give you goosebumps.

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