Tedious Brief TalesAnyone who goes first to the ghost stories of M.R. James for their Halloween chills is going to run short of fresh horrors pretty fast. Fortunately, there are solutions. One of them is the work of Arthur Gray (1852–1940), a Cambridge contemporary of James and a follower – although not necessarily an imitator – in the field of dark tales.

Gray was the Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, from 1912 to his death, while James was provost of King’s College from 1905 to 1918. He was also a fellow member of the Chitchat Society, and like James, first wrote some of his tales to be read at the Society’s meetings. His stories are set almost entirely in Jesus College itself, and share the antiquarian flavor that James mastered.

Gray’s ghost and horror stories were almost all collected in the bizarrely titled Tedious Brief Tales of Granta and Gramarye, published in 1919 under the pen name of “Ingulphus.” Surprisingly, despite its publication date and Gray’s death date, there’s no sign of a free digital copy anywhere, but you can enjoy some samples of the whole thing on Google Books, here. And Horror Masters, a fascinating website full of PDF versions of classic ghost and horror stories, some unavailable anywhere else, but now kept only on the Wayback Machine, has three of the nine stories in its catalog: “The Everlasting Club,” The Necromancer,” and “The True History of Anthony Ffryar.” There’s a very cheap Kindle edition of the whole thing available too, from the wonderful Black Heath Press. So if you want more specimens of the scholarly spectral and spooky, that’s your Halloween sorted.


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