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Christmas: A Biography


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The acclaimed author of The Victorian House and The Victorian City tells the story of the celebration of Christmas, from mummers' plays to the invention of Sellotape, revealing much fascinating new information and shattering many myths.

About the Author

Judith Flanders is the author of the bestselling The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed (2003); A Circle of Sisters (2001), which was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award; the New York Times bestselling The Invention of Murder (2001), shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Non-fiction; The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London (2012), shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times History Book of the Year; and The Making of Home (2014). In her copious leisure time, she also writes the Sam Clair series of comic crime novels.


Flanders covers every aspect of Christmas . . . [Christmas: A Biography] is . . . a catalogue of colourful information, and as surprising an assortment of items as any you might find heaped up under a tree. -- Lucy Hughes-Hallett * Observer *
A well-researched account. There are more footnotes here than there are presents under a Rockefeller Christmas tree. Indeed, the book is stuffed with facts - enough to satiate even the most ravenous postprandial taste for quizzing. * Sunday Times *
[An] entertaining biography . . . Following the fine tradition of light entertainment Christmas books, Judith Flanders provides lots of trivia . . . However, there is much more to it than that. Flanders is a respected social historian, best known for studies on Victorian life, and the strength of this warm book lies in its quiet erudition. * The Times *
If you do want to think about the actual meaning of Christmas, why it still matters to us so much, the book you need is Christmas: A Biography by the cultural historian Judith Flanders . . . which traces its "strange hybrid growth" all the way back to its origins. -- David Sexton * Evening Standard *
A definitive, myth-busting new book . . . [Christmas: A Biography] tells the full history of the festival that owes it beginning to Roman celebrations of the winter solstice with some fascinating revelations along the way. * The Lady *
Who could say bah-humbug to this sprawling-yet-accessible history, which examines traditions with all the trimmings. * Irish Sunday Independent *
A superabundance of information about holiday practices, drawn not just from Britain, North American, the Commonwealth and Continental Europe (especially Germany), but from wherever Christmas is celebrated - even, at its most secular and idiosyncratic, in Japan. * TLS *
Little escapes Flanders's notice, as she reflects on the film It's a Wonderful Life, the nation-binding importance of Britain's annual carol concert from King's College, Cambridge, or the financial dependence of local ballet companies on performances of The Nutcracker. Throughout, too, her writing remains brisk and witty: She alludes to the seasonal tradition of reading ghost stories, "while the children break their new toys around you." * Washington Post *
Judith Flanders . . . likes Christmas (I think), but she loves reality and its awkward, amusing facts. (A previous book of hers, Inside the Victorian Home, is deep, bright and encompassing.) * New York Times *
This informative and entertaining history is an absolute delight. * Woman & Home *

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