A NATURAL BODY AND A SPIRITUAL BODY by J.S.Leatherbarrow, intro by James Doig, jacket art by Jason Van Hollander. Ashcroft, BC, Canada; Ash-Tree Press; 2008. 1st edition hardcover.
ISBN: 978-7-55310-102-4; XVI + 112pp; Limited to 400 copies. Published December 2007.
A ghostly goat; the strange inmates of a country nursing home; the oddly dressed inhabitants of an unusual village; the vengeful guardian of a family horoscope; the evil possessing a church carving; the horror of a visit to a stately home: these are some of the themes running through A Natural Body and A Spiritual Body, J. S. Leatherbarrow's collection of ghost stories, first published privately in 1983. J. S. Leatherbarrow (1908–89) enjoyed the ghost stories of M. R. James from the time he was a boy. After he had been ordained in 1931 he began to read James's stories to young people of his parish, and when the supply ran out his audience encouraged him to write some ghost stories of his own. The result was this all too short a collection which, Leatherbarrow writes, was 'in respectful imitation of my mentor' Many of the stories are set in Leatherbarrow's beloved Worcestershire, in the area between the Severn and the Teme, and the author notes that they are partly autobiographical, partly local history, and partly sheer invention, but that 'for the life of me I can't tell exactly where one category ends and the next begins'. One previously uncollected story has been added for this new edition. Little has been written about Leatherbarrow—indeed, he seems destined to remain something of a mystery for some years, as his private papers are sealed until 2039. For his introduction, however, James Doig has unearthed some fascinating biographical information, which helps us better to understand the character of the man behind this collection.
CONTENTS: Preface; Introduction by James Doig; The First Born; The Ghostly Goat of Glaramara; The Nautical Footsteps; The Two Squarsons; The Nursing Home; The Stranger in the Scarf; The Derelict Village; The Green Man of Rudmet; The Roots of the Cedar; The Elder Statesman; The Servant of the Queen; 'A New People Takes the Land'; Ankerdine Hall. Fine in fine dj.