You can listen and download the New Ghost Stories Podcast from a number of platforms.
The votes were counted, and the winner of the poll for the 1-year anniversary bonus episode of the podcast is The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs. It beat stories by Lovecraft, Robert Louis Stevenson and M.R. James. I was sure James would walk it, but perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised – The Monkey’s Paw is one of the most adapted ghost stories ever written.
In his day, William Wymark Jacobs was actually much better-known for his comedies. The volume of stories in which The Monkey’s Paw features was originally named after a story called The Lady of the Barge, a comic tale about two sailors taking a woman, whom one of them desires, for a ride on their boat.
Despite its rather shocking twist, The Monkey’s Paw does include many of the comic observational touches that made Jacob’s work so popular. His father was a manager on the South Devon wharf near Wapping, giving him an ear for the voices and lives of working people. And he himself would work for the Post Office for many years before committing full time to writing.
This led some contemporary critics to compare his work to Charles Dickens. But Jacobs’ style is much more economical; it is a lot less verbose than many writers of his time, giving his work an edge in terms of building suspense, as well as making him a more accessible author for those interested in the classic period of supernatural writing.