Frivola (1896)

Haunted Library

Augustus Jessopp (1823-1914) was a schoolteacher, cleric and antiquary, and was also a prolific writer of entertaining historical and antiquarian articles for various periodicals (most notably The Nineteenth Century). For readers of supernatural and Gothic fiction, however, Jessopp’s work is of interest mainly as a possible source of inspiration for the ‘antiquarian’ ghost stories of M.R. James. This is most obviously reflected by the title of ‘An Antiquary’s Ghost Story’, included in Frivola, a collection of essays published by Jessopp in 1896. The collection also includes an essay on ‘The Dying Out of the Marvellous’, which seems to encapsulate the ethos of the antiquarian ghost story, as well as ‘The Phantom Coach’. I’ve also included Jessopp’s essay on Hill-digging and magic (a possible source for James’s ‘A Warning to the Curious’) as an Appendix.

In addition to these pieces, Frivola also includes the powerful (but little-read) novella ‘Simon Ryan’ – a tale of religious mania with several Gothic elements.

Frivola [Kindle]

Frivola [Epub]

Frivola [PDF]

Critical edition:

The Phantom Coach and Other Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, introduced by Jessica Amanda Salmonson (Richard H.Fawcett, 1998). [The Introduction is available to read on Salmonson’s website]

A note on copyright:

The text is a collation of the first and second editions (1896 and 1907) and I explain my editorial choices in a textual note within the ebook. In this sense, the ebook offered here is a totally new edition of Jessopp’s collection, unavailable elsewhere. This makes it slightly different from the other books on offer at this blog. As with all the other files on this site, readers are free to use or distribute this ebook in any way they choose without my prior permission. This also applies to the individual pieces contained within the present ebook. If anyone wishes to reproduce the ebook in full, however, I would greatly appreciate if they could acknowledge this blog as a source.

Phantom Coach

8 thoughts on “Frivola (1896)

  1. Leon

    Thanks for uploading this edition of Jessopp’s texts. I like your suggestions of Jessopp’s influence on James, especially because, as I am sure you are well aware, both men knew each other well and around the time of the publication of ‘Frivola’ and the first magazine publication (in the March 1895 issue of the National Review) of James’s very first ghost story, Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book (composed c. 1892-3), were working together on the translation and edition of ‘The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich’ (Cambridge UP, 1896), the manuscript of which had been discovered by James in the late 1880s. That volume, by the way – a deliciously gothic real-life mediaeval murder mystery – would be a great addition to your collection of free ebooks!

      1. Leon

        It is a truly fascinating (and sickening) case (Easter 1144, a young boy found murdered in the Woods near Norwich, supposedly crucified by Jews in mockery of Christ as part of an annual ritual) – and, as far as we know now, unfortunately the first of many similar cases throughout history. In addition to James and Jessopp’s introductory material in their edition of the mediaeval manuscript by Thomas of Monmouth, a useful general introduction to the case is: M.D. Anderson, A Saint at Stake: The Strange Death of William of Norwich, 1144 (Faber, 1964). Or better still: Gavin I. Langmuir, ‘Thomas of Monmouth: Detector of Ritual Murder,’ in: Speculum, 59/4 (1984), pp. 820-46 – a scholarly paper which reads like a first-class detective novel.

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