In Spring 2006 the Haunted Library published Tales from Lectoure by M.R. James, a transcription of a two-part lecture he gave in which he translated some of the (in his words) "most strange and savage of all folk tales". These odd tales from south-west France were originally collected by Jean-François Bladé and published in Contes populaires de la Gascogne (1885). Most of them had never previously been translated into English. For how to purchase M.R. James's booklet, see here.

When artist Douglas Walters received his copy of Tales from Lectoure he was inspired to produce some full colour illustrations depicting various motifs from selected stories. These pictures are exclusive to the Ghosts & Scholars web site and are copyright (c) 2006 Douglas Walters. Not to be reproduced without permission.


(1) The Chastisement of the Queen"

"The first stroke of midnight roused him. A ghost was looking upon him without a word. The dead man took his son by the hand and led him in the dark night to the other end of the castle. There he opened a secret cupboard and pointed with his finger to a phial that was half full. 'Your mother poisoned me. You are king. Avenge me.' "


(2) "Golden Feet"

"He waited till the last strike of midnight. Then the Apprentice swooped down, a hundred times swifter than a swallow, upon the hollow willow where the Smith of Pont-de-Pile hid his man's skin every night. In less than an instant, the man's skin was hanging on one of the hooks of his belt of iron."


(3) "The Young Man and the Great Beast with a Man's Head"

"Three days later he reached a desert region, in a wild black country, where the waters fall from a thousand fathoms height, where the mountains are so high, so high, that the birds cannot fly over them, and the snow upon them never melts.
There dwelt the Great Beast with a man's head."


(4) "The Sword of St Peter"

"Then the king's son cried very loudly: 'Quiou quiou quiou.' But the woodpecker came not. Then the king's son whistled very loudly: 'Tziou tziou tziou.' But the seven lizards came not. For a whole year the king's son lived there, alone, under Mount Calvary, in the great church where 700 candles and 700 lamps burn night and day. In his wallet he found every morning just enough bread to keep him from dying of hunger. In his gourd he found every morning just enough wine to keep him from dying of thirst..."


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Last altered 12th September 2006