With Four Illustrations by the late James McBryde. London: Edward Arnold, 1904. 16 pp ads dated Nov 1904. Original oatmeal burlap with yapped fore-edge.
First Edition of M.R. James's first book, consisting of eight tales of the supernatural. James was Provost of King's College, Cambridge, where he also directed the Fitzwilliam Museum, and was later Provost of Eton -- but it is for his ghost stories, beginning with this volume, for which he is best remembered over a century later. He was one of the major medievalists of his era, and was also well-versed in popular fiction -- both of which helped him to write these tales.
Written over a period of about ten years and originally read aloud to "patient friends, usually at the season of Christmas"... GHOST-STORIES OF AN ANTIQUARY is generally taken to mark the beginning of the modern era of supernatural fiction. Most of his stories are concerned with the "evil that dieth not but lieth in wait," with a fine use of the exotica of antiquarianism. In the opinion of many, the foremost modern writer of supernatural fiction. [Bleiler]
There are four plates by "the late James McBryde" -- who died in June 1904 at age 30 (of complications from appendicitis), after he had completed only four; the publisher Arnold suggested they find another illustrator for the other planned plates, but James wanted the book published as it was, as a tribute to his friend McBryde.
This copy does have the November 1904 ad catalogue, not present in all copies, and is in near-fine condition (front endpaper cracked, only a little of the soil and wear to which this unusual binding is susceptible). A major volume in any supernatural collection. Bleiler 911. Item #14636