Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Ghost Stories for Christmas Eve

M. R. James circa 1900.
Christmas Eve is past for this year. Most of you are in the thick of boxing day or maybe preparing for New Year's Eve celebrations. One of the Victorian Christmas Eve traditions that appears to have died out is the telling of ghost stories. Family and friends used to gather round the fire on Christmas Eve to delight and give fright with tales of specters and terrors. Other than watching some version of A Christmas Carol, I doubt most Americans make any connection between Christmas Eve and ghost stories, unless you're a fan of M. R. James.

Montague Rhodes James (1862-1936), was an English author and medieval scholar. He served as provost of King's College, Cambridge from 1905 to 1918 and is best remembered for his ghost stories, many of which draw on his antiquarian interests. His ghost stories appeared in the collections: Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1904), More Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1911), A Thin Ghost and Others (1919), and A Warning to the Curious and Other Ghost Stories (1925). James claimed that he wrote many of these tales as Christmas Eve entertainments.

Thanks to the BBC and Youtube, you too can experience a bit of an old Christmas tradition. Settle in to a cosy chair with something hot and comforting to drink. Build a fire if you have a fireplace and listen to some masterful tales of the strange and mysterious. Just do a search on Youtube for "M. R. James".

Here are a few links to get you started:

"A Warning to the Curious".

"Number 13".

"The Ash Tree".

No comments:

Post a Comment