August 2012 | Nate Pedersen

Ghost Story in Search of an Ending

MRJames1900.jpgGhost stories live and die by their endings.  Now your child has an opportunity to finish a ghost story by a master of the form: M. R. James.

An unfinished story by James, which has languished for years in the King's College archive of the author's material, has been dusted off and presented for the world to see.

The story, entitled "The Game of the Bear," has been published online by Suffolk Coast.  It contains typical Jamesian elements: a secluded country manor, winter winds, embittered relatives, and a disputed inheritance.  British children (up to age 16) have the opportunity to finish the story as part of a competition to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the author's birth.  The competition will be judged by Susan Hill, an adept ghost story writer herself, whose ghostly novel, The Woman in Black, was recently turned into a film:

I'm entertained by the idea of a child finishing a ghost story by one of the art form's true masters.  I would love to read the winning entry.  And as a publicity move, it's also a laudable effort, bringing together creative composition, classic literature, and the value of archives.

And, of course, ghosts.