Tag Archives: E F Benson

E F Benson’s ‘Spook’ Stories

5 Aug

I’ve mentioned The Benson Brothers in a previous post but the most famous and talented of them, E F Benson, really does deserve special attention. Benson was always interested in psychic phenomena and ghosts, and later described some of his own strange encounters in his autobiography Final Edition (1940). For instance, Benson records that on one bright hot summer day he and the Vicar of Rye both saw the ghostly apparition of a man in black at the bottom of his garden. It is no coincidence that Benson was well acquainted with that other great master of the genre, M R James, for nearly fifty years. He was a member of the Chitchat Society, a Cambridge literary society which had for its object ‘the promotion of rational conversation’ (i.e. the telling of tall tales around a homely fire). Benson was present at the historic meeting on 28 October 1893 when James read his first two ghost stories, Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook and Lost Hearts, but of all of those in attendance on that occasion he was the only one destined to follow the lead of the incomparable James. United by a perfect chilling atmosphere and graceful literary style, Benson’s ghostly stories range from the horror of vampires, homicidal ghosts and monstrous spectral worms and slugs to the satire of humorous tales that poke fun at charlatan mediums and fake seances. Whilst Benson’s tales may be somewhat less imbued with sheer terror than those of M R James, one thing that can be said of them for certain is that they never fail to chill and mesmerise.

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The Benson Brothers

11 Oct

The instance of there being two talented sibling writers in the same family is rare but for there to be three famous authors born to the same parents is truly exceptional. The most famous case, of course, is the Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Less well known but still of great interest are the three brothers A C, E F and R H Benson, born between 1862 and 1871, who between them managed a literary output consisting of over a hundred works of fiction and non-fiction, both short and long. While ghost stories formed only a relatively small part of their collective output, it was the contribution that each brother made to the supernatural genre by the quality of their work that is most remarkable.

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An exorcism in Cambridge?

11 Sep

I’ve lived in Cambridge for about fifteen years but it’s only recently, much to my own surprise, that I’ve discovered that as well as being a famed university town and centre of technology, it is also reputedly one of the most haunted locations in the British Isles and has been the setting for a wide variety of supernatural phenomena over the centuries!

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