British academic from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Known for his Ghost Stories, almost all of which involve, or are narrated by, a reclusive academic with antiquarian interests who works at one of the colleges of Cambridge. Notable stories include "Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad," "Casting the Runes," and "A Warning to the Curious". Known mostly in Britain, where his stories are frequently adapted for television or radio by The BBC.
- Artifact of Doom: a plenty.
- Bedsheet Ghost: In "Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad," the main character is nearly murdered by some sort of incorporeal force that possesses his bed sheets, in one of the few convincingly creepy examples of this trope.
- Cats Are Mean: In "The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral"
- Curiosity Killed the Cast: Partially subverted. The scholar protagonists are too curious for their own good, but it's rarely fatal. Played tragically and horrifyingly straight with Mr. Wraxall in "Count Magnus".
- Evil Sorcerer: Several, but Mr. Karswell in "Casting the Runes" is a stand-out.
- The Fair Folk: In "After Dark in the Playing-Fields."
- Gothic Horror: One of the last authors of this genre
- Hanging Judge: Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys in "Martin's Close" and in the background of "A Neighbour's Landmark."
- Historical Domain Character: Lord Jeffreys, as above; Lady Ivy (or Ivie) posthumously in the latter story.
- Literary Allusion Title:
- "'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad'" -- A quotation from Scottish poet Robert Burns 
- "A Neighbour's Landmark" -- Refers to Deuteronomy XXVII, xvii.: "Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor's landmark."
- "There Was A Man Dwelt By A Churchyard--" -- Refers to William Shakespeare's The Winters Tale, Act ii, Scene 1:
Mamillius: There was a man.
Hermione: Nay, come sit downe: then on.
Mamillius: Dwelt by a Church-yard ...
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Many of James' ghosts take bizarre corporeal forms. Quite a few are felt before they are seen.
- Our Vampires Are Different: "An Episode of Cathedral History" is included in at least one anthology of vampire fiction . It isn't a very good fit.
- Owl Be Damned: In "After Dark in the Playing-Fields."
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Multiple stories with an unpleasant being imprisoned in a tomb, grave, or ruin, inevitably later disturbed. Includes "Count Magnus" (the count's sarcophagus has three padlocks on it), "An Episode of Cathedral History", and "The Rose Garden", for three.
- Stringy Haired Ghost Girl: In "Martin's Close"
- Supernatural Fiction: evidenced by all the ghosts running about
- Unexpected Inheritance
- Wicked Witch: Mrs. Mothersole in "The Ash-Tree"