The two battered Wakefield books here were amongst the first ghost stories we ever read. They certainly influenced us. Even though most of the stories have been captured in the excellent Ash Tree editions we have kept the original Jonathan Cape versions as they hold so much nostalgic magic for us. They have travelled far and wide as they made superb holiday reading on the beach and around the pool!
The Collected M R James was purchased in 1973 from a bookshop in Arnos Grove North London. I worked at Palmers Green at the time, didn't have a car, or was even able to drive, but I saw the book featured on the booksellers newsletter. It has in the front end papers a short hand written letter from James. My work colleague and lifelong friend Carol Morley was quite sophisticated and drove. I wish I could remember what her car was, maybe a Triumph Herald? Anyway. Lunchtime was set aside for the trip to the bookshop and £10 was paid for the book and letter - quite a fee for those days and the most I had spent on a book.
Again, even though the superb Ash Tree edition (Barbara and Christopher Roden) has the stories, the Collected will remain with me because of the memories it evokes.
The other books in this picture were bought over the years as we tracked down all the writers loosely called the 'James Gang'. It was Rosemary Pardoe who compiled the booklet, with a Hugh Lamb introduction, that listed and described writers and their books who had been influenced by James. She mentioned that it was Mike Ashley who coined the James Gang description.