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The Monkey’s Paw

30 Sep

William Wymark Jacobs (1863-1943) was born in London and spread his literary talent widely as a journalist, humourist, dramatist and novelist. He became popular with readers for a series of tales about the lives of seamen, but in 1902 wrote The Monkey’s Paw, a horror story which has been filmed, adapted for radio and television, and is probably one of the most anthologised stories in English literature. The story is based on the famous setup, in which three wishes are granted. In the story, the paw of a dead monkey is a talisman that grants its possessor three wishes, but they come with an enormous price for interfering with fate. The story has been adapted into other media many times, including a one-act play that was performed in 1907 at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre. There were also film adaptations in the silent era, notably the infamous 1933 version directed by Ernest B Schoedsack, a lost film whose mysterious disappearance has been debated for decades. An updated version of the story was then featured in a 1965 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Most recently, director Ricky Lewis Jr. adapted the story into a partially animated horror short in 2011. What is it about The Monkey’s Paw that has made it so irresistible to adaptors in the century-plus since its publication?

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