Introducing the 6th volume of “Little Books” Series IV — Past Masters of Horror and Dark Fantasy.
Publisher’s Note: production costs have been increasing at an alarming rate for the last 2 years, and we have tried to maintain our current pricing, but the latest round of increases (in both materials and labor) has forced us to finally increase the cost of our product for the first time in 15 years. We ask for your understanding regarding this economic reality.
From Editor Jones’ Introduction:
Like Lovecraft, M. R. James only produced a relatively small body of work during his lifetime—so far as the supernatural genre is concerned, at least—but his stories have never been out of print since they were first published and today, more than ever, his work continues to shape the output of many new and established writers who still find inspiration in not only his themes, but also his subtle storytelling techniques.
In fact, as with Lovecraft, a whole industry has gradually built up around MRJ and his concepts, which continues to reverberate through horror fiction in the 21st century.
Also, like Lovecraft, MRJ had his own literary followers and disciples, who tried to follow in his fictional footsteps. Some of the best of these have come to be known as the “James Gang,” a term first coined by Mike Ashley back in 1988. These included, along with MRJ’s friends A. C. Benson and E. F. Benson, such authors as Arthur Gray, R. H. Malden, A.N.L. Munby, L.T.C. Rolt, E. G. Swain and H. Russell Wakefield.
More recent additions to this list include Peter Bell, Ramsey Campbell, John Gordon, John Howard, Reggie Oliver, John Llewellyn Probert, David A. Sutton, Mark Valentine, C.E. Ward and D.P. Watt, along with numerous others who continue to produce work in the MRJ tradition.
Despite writing a relatively small number of ghost stories, many of MRJ’s best-known tales have been widely adapted for television and radio. The first televised version of the authors’ work was Laurence Schwab’s “The Lost Will of Dr. Rant” (1951) starring Leslie Nielsen. An adaptation of “The Tractate Middoth,” it aired as part of the NBC series Lights Out.
Editor Stephen Jones is an English editor of horror anthologies, and the author of several book-length studies of horror and fantasy films as well as an account of H. P. Lovecraft‘s early British publications.
Jones and Kim Newman have edited several books together, including Horror: 100 Best Books, the 1988 horror volume in Xanadu’s 100 Best series, and Horror: Another 100 Best Books, a 2005 sequel from Carroll & Graf (US publisher of the earlier series). Each comprises 100 essays by 100 horror writers about 100 horror books and each was recognised by the Horror Writers of America with its annual Bram Stoker Award for Best Non-Fiction.
Jones has edited anthologies such as the Dark Voices, Dark Terrors, Best New Horror series, The Mammoth Book of Vampires, The Mammoth Book of Zombies, The Mammoth Book of Dracula, The Mammoth Book of Frankenstein, The Mammoth Book of Vampire Stories by Women, The Vampire Stories of R. Chetwynd-Hayes, The Conan Chronicles, 1 and The Conan Chronicles, 2 by Robert E. Howard, and Scream Quietly: The Best of Charles L. Grant. Jones also edited Dancing with the Dark, a collection of stories of allegedly real life encounters with the paranormal by established horror writers.
Jones has been the recipient of a Hugo award and many Bram Stoker Awards. His Mammoth book Best New Horror (1990, with Ramsey Campbell) was a World Fantasy Award winner. Volume 31, the most recent installment of the annual anthology, was published in 2021.