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.

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!!Works by this author give examples of:

* ArtifactOfDoom: a plenty.
* AttackOfTheKillerWhatever: "The Malice of Inanimate Objects" suggests that small accidents with everyday items (mentioning: the collar stud, the inkstand, the fire, the razor, the extra step on the staircase, the needle, the egg, the duck, the cat, the millstone...) are the result of the angry dead trying to exact revenge on the living. The particular example most of the story is dedicated to is a killer razor blade.
* 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.]]
* CreepyChangingPainting: "The Mezzotint" is about a mezzotint engraving which depicts a supernatural creature gradually making off with the family residing at an English manor.
* 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"]].
* DramaticEllipsis: James has an amusing parenthetical comment about them in his essay "Stories I Have Tried to Write":
-->(Dots are believed by many writers of our day to be a good substitute for effective writing. They are certainly an easy one. Let us have a few more...)
* 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."
** The ghost in "The Rose Garden" is eventually identified as a hanging judge who (like Jeffreys) served as Lord Chief Justice under Charles II.
* 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.
* OurWightsAreDifferent: In "A Warning to the Curious", the last custodian of an Anglo-Saxon mound becomes a shadowy, implacable guardian spirit who "has some power over your eyes."
* PassedOverInheritance: "The Tractate Middoth" has an eccentric man who made two wills, once which favors his nephew, the other his niece (who he actually prefers) -- and the latter will is encoded and hidden. The nephew gets to the niece's will first with intent to destroy it, but [[spoiler:is killed by the old man's ghost and]] the niece ends up inheriting.
* {{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.
* SchmuckBait: In "Wailing Well", the Scouts are warned at all costs to keep away from the area on the map marked in red. This works as well as you'd expect.
* 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".
** Sir ______ ______ in "The Rose Garden".
* StringyHairedGhostGirl: In "Martin's Close."
* SupernaturalFiction: evidenced by all the ghosts running about.
* UnexpectedInheritance: In "Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance".
* 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."

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