An English Christmas
By John Julius Norwich
A Christmas anthology from legendary historian and Christmas Cracker compiler, John Julius Norwich.
'If I could work my will,' said Scrooge indignantly, 'Every idiot who goes about with "Merry Christmas" on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.'
This year go carol-singing in the Cotswolds with Laurie Lee or attend church with a grumpy Samuel Pepys. Make plum puddings for bemused French villagers with Elizabeth David; go present shopping with Virginia Woolf or eat far too much with Agatha Christie. Celebrate Christmas at Chatsworth, in the workhouse or marooned in the ice with Shackleton ...
For the last forty-five years, the arrival of John Julius Norwich's latest Christmas Cracker has become as essential a part of the Christmas experience as holly and mistletoe. In An English Christmas the legendary popular historian has finally gathered all the best writing about this strangest and most memorable time of year into one book and his brilliant eye for a story is evident on every page.
Vividly evoking all the good things about the festive season, this unexpected anthology is just as entertaining about its darker aspects. Eight-year-old Princess Margaret's thank-you list jostles with moving letters home from the trenches. Sherlock Holmes solves his trickiest case. George Orwell writes about indigestion; Jane Austen about reluctant socialising and Thomas Hardy about the old folk belief that all animals kneel at midnight on 24 December. There are ghost stories, games and bizarre recipes. Diary-entries, recipes and letters sit alongside poems and short stories. An English Christmas could convert any Scrooge into an instant enthusiast.
John Julius Norwich is a English historian whose many acclaimed books include Venice, Sicily, The Popes and The Middle Sea. Lord Norwich is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Geographical Society and the Society of Antiquaries, and a Commendatore of the Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.
At the age of 41 he compiled his first Christmas Cracker - a personal collection of quirky quotes and literary odds and ends - which he sent to his friends instead of a Christmas card, 46 years later they are still going strong...
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- Publication date:
16 Nov 2017
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Its contents are like those of a Christmas stocking, in that small nuggets jostle alongside much larger pieces — The Times
A charming introduction that's almost worth the admission price alone — The Spectator