Two Birthdays of Two Legends

Two practitioners of the fantastic were born this day.  You might say they were Legends.  *ducks and runs*

M. R. James

The first is generally considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, writer of the classic English ghost, Montague Rhodes James.  M. R. James was born August 1 1862 and died June 12, 1936.

James only wrote one novel.  His output consisted primarily of atmospheric short stories.  Many of his tales focus on antiquarians and haunted objects. When ghost stories are discussed, James is usually the author other writers of this type of story are compared to.

Among the most popular are “Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad”, “The Ash-Tree”, “The Mezzotint”, and “Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook”.  James’ work has passed into the public domain, and there are several editions of his complete works available in both print and electronic form.

David Gemmell

The other writer with a birthday today is David Gemmell.  Gemmell was born in 1948 and passed away on July 28, 2006.  He was gone far too soon.

Gemmell certainly needs no introduction to regular readers of this blog.  He has been featured here on a number of occasions.

I had the privilege of meeting David Gemmell on one occasion.  That was the World Fantasy Convention of 2000, held in Corpus Christi.  I had heard of him at the time but wasn’t really familiar with his work.  Gemmell was friendly, easy-going, and down to earth.  He was readily approachable and easy to talk to.  I didn’t take an active role in the conversation, but at one point he and Jane Lindskold began discussing westerns.  Turns out they were both fans of Louis L’Amour, particularly the Sackett novels.

Gemmell wrote heroic fantasy, starting with the now classic novel Legend.  He’s definitely someone I need to read more of.

6 thoughts on “Two Birthdays of Two Legends

  1. Woelf Dietrich

    As you know, I am a huge Gemmell fan. It does not surprise me that he was a fan of L’Amour. My dad introduced me to L’Amour’s stories and as a kid and young man I could never read enough of his books, especially the Sackett series of novels. Both Gemmell’s and L’Amour’s stories featured protagonists that believed in honor and duty; they were brave no matter the odds and boy, could they fight. Thanks for honoring him.

    1. Keith West Post author

      You’re welcome. My younger brother was big into L’Amour when I was growing up, so I stayed away from him at the time because everyone knows that anything your brother likes can’t be any good. I’ve overcome that mindset. While I haven’t read a great deal of L’Amour, I’ve liked what I’ve read. I need to read more of both men.


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