|Illustration by Walt Sturrock|
Englishman W. W. Jacobs’ literary work was mainly comedic, but he is now known nearly exclusively for his supernatural short story, “The Monkey’s Paw”. Originally published in September of 1902, it has been republished in horror anthologies, adapted for film and stage, and provided inspiration for dozens of other forms of media.
In his classic tale, the White family—which includes Mr., Mrs. and grown son, Herbert—are visited by a friend, military man, Sergeant-Major Morris. He tells the Whites of a mysterious talisman that will grant three wishes, but at a terrible expense. Sergeant-Major Morris throws the talisman, a dried monkey’s paw, into the fire, but Mr. White retrieves it before it is burned, and despite Morris’ warnings, decides to keep it and use it anyway.
|Brett Simmons' 2013 film|
This motif has been incorporated in a number of other films, television shows, books, video games, and comics, but perhaps my favorite version of “The Monkey’s Paw” is living legend Christopher Lee’s 2004 recording of the tale, which was done as part of the BBC’s radio series Christopher Lee’s Fireside Tales. Read the full text here (http://americanliterature.com/author/w-w-jacobs/short-story/the-monkeys-paw), or listen below… if you dare.