Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ghosts & Scholars: The Illustrations

Ghosts & Scholars was the title of a periodical that, from the 1980s to the turn of the millennium, discussed the life and work of M. R. James and those who followed in the tradition he established of the 'Antiquarian' ghost story. As a periodical, then as a newsletter and currently as a website it represents perhaps one of the most sustained and highest quality literary-critical efforts in the genre of Supernatural fiction and it is a must-read for those interested, not just in M. R. James but in the whole notion of the ghost story in the twentieth century.
As well as high quality research and criticism, Ghosts & Scholars also attracted a high quality of illustration, a fact which I have been appreciating today as I have been cataloguing a long run of them. These are just a few of the illustrations from covers and from interior pages that caught my eye. From top to bottom: volume 31 Paul Lowe illustrates the James story "Lost Hearts"; volume 13 Allen Koszowski illustrates "Our Lady of Darkness" by Fritz Leiber; also from volume 13 Dallas Goffin illustrates the very famous story by James, "Oh whistle and I'll come to you, my lad"; volume 14 is another Kozsowski illustration for the same Fritz Leiber story; volume 24 has Paul Lowe again illustrating the James story, "Mr Humphreys and his Inheritance"; in volume 27 Douglas Walters illustrates James's "A School Story"; and finally in volume 30 Paul Lowe again is illustrating "The Fenstanton Witch" by James.
I could have scanned so many more too... Obviously, it helps to know the stories a little and there are any number of digital editions of James's stories available online but if you would like a crammer's guide to James I can't recommend highly enough A Podcast to the Curious in which the very dapper Mike and Will explore a different story of James's in each podcast in humorous and informed style.

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