Montague Rhodes James (1862-1936) was a British academic from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Known for his {{Ghost Stor|y}}ies, almost all of which involve, or are narrated by, a [[AuthorAvatar reclusive academic with antiquarian interests who works at one of the colleges of Cambridge]]. Notable stories include "Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad," "[[Film/NightoftheDemon Casting the Runes]]," and "A Warning to the Curious". Known mostly in Britain, where his stories are frequently adapted for television or radio by Creator/TheBBC.

A number of CosmicHorror authors, notably Creator/HPLovecraft, have acknowledged James' influence.

!!Works by this author give examples of:

* ArtifactOfDoom: a plenty.
* BedSheetGhost: In "Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad," [[spoiler: the main character is nearly murdered by some sort of incorporeal force that possesses his bed sheets]], in one of the few convincingly creepy examples of this trope.
* CatsAreMean: In "The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral" [[spoiler: Said cat is a supernatural force for revenge, though.]]
* CreepyChild: The first half of "The Residence at Whitminster".
* CreepyDoll: When the clock strikes one AM, those pretty dolls in "The Haunted Dolls' House" turn out to have a very different side...
* CuriosityKilledTheCast: Partially subverted. The scholar protagonists are too curious for their own good, but it's rarely fatal. Played tragically and horrifyingly straight with [[spoiler:Mr. Wraxall in "Count Magnus", and Paxton in the quite literal "A Warning to the Curious"]].
* EldritchAbomination: Count Magnus'... companion... seems to be channelling this trope.
* EverythingTryingToKillYou: "The Malice of Inanimate Objects", although it starts off more like Everything Trying To Fuck Up Your Otherwise Nice Day.
* EvilSorcerer: Several, but Mr. Karswell in "Casting the Runes" is a stand-out.
* TheFairFolk: In "After Dark in the Playing-Fields."
* FailedASpotCheck: Professor Parkins in "Oh Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad" chooses a very unfortunate moment to blank out on his Latin.
* GhostFiction: the genre he's most known for writing in.
* GothicHorror: One of the last authors of this genre
* HangingJudge: Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys in "Martin's Close" and in the background of "A Neighbour's Landmark."
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Lord Jeffreys, as above; Lady Ivy (or Ivie) posthumously in the latter story.
** James is also quite fond of name-dropping real, albeit very obscure historical figures in his stories to lend additional credibility; some examples include Jean de Mauleon and Jorgen Friis, mentioned in "Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book" and "Number 13" respectively.
** "Martin's Close" is chock-full of these; aside from Judge Jeffreys, both the prosecutors (Sir Robert Sawyer and John Dolben) and Reverend Glanvil are historical figures.
** There was also a real, historical Swedish noble named Count Magnus de la Gardie, although nowhere near as villainous as his Jamesian counterpart (not that he was particularly pleasant either).
** "Wailing Well" features several real-life members of staff at Eton, including M.R. James himself.
* LiteraryAllusionTitle:
** "'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad'" -- A quotation from Scottish poet Robert Burns [[note]] More correctly, "O Whistle, an' I'll come to ye, my lad."[[/note]]
** "A Neighbour's Landmark" -- Refers to [[Literature/TheBible Deuteronomy]] 27:17 -- "Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor's landmark."
** "There Was A Man Dwelt By A Churchyard--" -- Refers to Creator/WilliamShakespeare's ''Theatre/TheWintersTale'', Act ii, Scene 1:
-->'''Mamillius:''' There was a man.\\
'''Hermione:''' Nay, come sit downe: then on.\\
'''Mamillius:''' Dwelt by a Church-yard ...
* OhCrap: Sums up the protagonist's belated realization that that's ''not'' a spider on the table in "Canon Alberic's Scrap-book."
* OminousOwl: In "After Dark in the Playing-Fields." Played with a bit, though: the owl is [[TalkingAnimal chatty enough]] but very, very grouchy (you'd be grouchy too if the FairFolk kept harassing you for fun).
* OurGhostsAreDifferent: Many of James' ghosts take bizarre corporeal forms. Quite a few are ''felt'' before they are seen.
* OurVampiresAreDifferent: "An Episode of Cathedral History" is included in at least one anthology of vampire fiction [[note]]''The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories''[[/note]]. It isn't a very good fit; probably the only reason it's included is because the story ends with a religious quote: Here Lay A Vampire.
* {{Patricide}}: In "The Haunted Dolls' House," the mother and father arrange for the grandfather's murder before he can write them out of the will. As this is a ghost story, things go downhill from there.
* PoweredByAForsakenChild: "Lost Hearts". The forsaken children's ghosts take exception to it.
* SealedEvilInACan: Multiple stories with an unpleasant being imprisoned in a tomb, grave, or ruin, inevitably later disturbed. Includes "Count Magnus" (the count's sarcophagus has three padlocks on it), "An Episode of Cathedral History", and "The Rose Garden", for three.
** In one case ("The Treasure of Abbot Thomas"), the evil was deliberately sealed in as [[SchmuckBait a boobytrap]], to be sprung on the first person to open the metaphorical can.
* ShoutOut: The title of "The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral" (which focuses on an ambitious clergyman) can only be a deliberate nod to the works of Anthony Trollope.
* SinisterMinister: The two "protagonists" of "The Fenstanton Witch". "Stories I Have Tried To Write" also contains a brief outline of an unfinished story featuring a villainous Roman Catholic priest dabbling in the occult.
* SpellMyNameWithABlank: Lord D___ in "The Treasure of Abbot Thomas".
* StringyHairedGhostGirl: In "Martin's Close."
* SupernaturalFiction: evidenced by all the ghosts running about.
* UnexpectedInheritance
* WeirdnessCensor: Professor Parkins is a BlackComedy example in "Oh Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad." It takes the ghost attacking him before he registers that something is not quite right.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: "Stories I Have Tried To Write" is a short essay by James in which he outlines, briefly, the plots of some stories he never managed to complete. Some of them actually sound rather intriguing.
* WhenTheClockStrikesTwelve: He once discovered a manuscript in the British Museum with a set of pre-1300's ghost stories. In one of them, a man met a ghost while he was traveling on a road at midnight.
* WickedWitch: Mrs. Mothersole in "The Ash-Tree."