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Ghosts of the Chit-Chat cover

Swan River Press

Ghosts of the Chit-Chat (edited by) Robert Lloyd Parry

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Cover image by John Coulthart
Edited by Robert Lloyd Parry

“Such things may have attached to them heaven knows what spooks and spirits.” – The Ikon

On the evening of Saturday, 28 October 1893, Cambridge University’s Chit-Chat Club convened its 601st meeting. Ten members and one guest gathered in the rooms of Montague Rhodes James, the Junior Dean of King’s College, and listened — with increasing absorption one suspects — as their host read “Two Ghost Stories”.

Ghosts of the Chit-Chat celebrates this momentous event in the history of supernatural literature, the earliest dated record we have of M. R. James reading his ghost stories out loud. And it revives the contributions that other members made to the genre; men of imagination who invoked the ghostly in their work, and who are now themselves shades. In a series of essays, stories, and poems Robert Lloyd Parry looks at the history and culture of the Club.

In addition to tales and poems never before reprinted, Ghosts of the Chit-Chat features earlier, slightly different versions of two of M. R. James’s best-known ghost stories; Robert Lloyd Parry’s profiles and commentaries on each featured Chit-Chat member sheds new light on this supernatural tradition, making Ghosts of the Chit-Chat a valuable resource for casual readers and long-time Jamesians alike.


  • "Preface"
  • "An Invitation to the Chit-Chat"
        Robert Lloyd Parry

    "M. R. James (1862-1936)"
  • "The Scrap-book of Canon Alberic"
  • "Lost Hearts"

    "E. F. Benson (1867-1940)"
  • "The Other Bed"

    "R. C. Bosanquet (1871-1935)"
  • "The Dean's Story"
  • "Red Gold"

    "R. H. Benson (1871-1914)"
  • "Father Bianchi's Tale"

    "J. K. Stephen (1859-1892)"
  • "Man Stories"

    "A. C. Benson (1862-1925)"
  • "Basil Netherby"

    "H. W. Tatham (1861-1909)"
  • "The Phonograph Bewitched"

    "Maurice Baring (1874-1945)"
  • "The Shadow of a Midnight"
  • "The Ikon"

    "Will Stone (1872-1901)"
  • "A Fable"

    "Desmond MacCarthy (1877-1952)"
  • "Pargiton and Harby"

    "Gerald Warre Cornish (1875-1916)"
  • "An Extract from 'Beneath the Surface'"
  • "Appendix: The Green Bay Tree"
  • "An Extract from The Green Bay Tree"
        W. H. Wilkins and Herbert Vivian
  • "Sources"
  • "Acknowledgements"

Robert Lloyd Parry is a performance storyteller and writer. In 2005 he began what he now refers to as “The M. R. James Project”, with a solo performance of “Canon Alberic’s Scrap-book” and “The Mezzotint” in James’s old office in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. The Project had since encompassed five more one-man theatre shows, several films and audiobooks, two documentaries, a guided walk, and numerous magazine articles. Visit Nunkie Productions

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