To mark the release of Christmas Past I gave a talk as past of LSU's Facebook Live Author Series - available here! More updates soon!
As the modern celebration of Christmas took shape across the nineteenth century, American writers gave it new meaning in the pages of countless books and magazines. Now, for the first time, this rich anthology brings together some of the most significant of those seasonal stories to retell a forgotten tale of Christmases past.
From the authors who helped define a national literary culture, to the popular sentimentalists who negotiated Christmas’s position at the center of family life, to the realists who looked to reshape American letters in the wake of the Civil War, and beyond: all varieties of American writers turned to Christmas as an inevitable and potent subject during this deeply formative period in the history of American literature. In Christmas Past, Thomas Ruys Smith brings together a diverse range of voices to showcase the many ways in which Christmas was imagined across the nineteenth century, offering images that echo down to the present. The introduction that frames the anthology provides a new literary history of Christmas, contextualizing the selections and making clear the links both between them and to the wider trajectory of American literature.
And here is advance praise from some of the giants of Christmas commentary:
Christmas Past is an invaluable contribution to not just to the study of Christmas stories but to the history of nineteenth-century American literature. — Gerry Bowler, author of The World Encyclopedia of Christmas and Santa Claus: A Biography
Christmas Past, with its lucid introduction, is a lovely and broad-ranging collection of nineteenth-century Christmas stories that ably illuminates the ways in which literary imaginations inspired and guided the creation of the 'old-fashioned' American Christmas. — Penne L. Restad, author of Christmas in America: A History
An eclectic and engrossing group of Christmas tales, vignettes, and reflections from America's deep nineteenth-century literary well. . . . There is something for everybody in this collection. — Robert E. May, author of Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas, and Southern Memory
An important contribution to the story of the American Christmas. Smith casts a wider net to include new and different voices from those most often contained in Christmas anthologies. — Tara Moore, author of Victorian Christmas in Print
Everyone believes that their own Christmas traditions are the 'real' ones, the ones that others can only palely imitate. Now, with Thomas Ruys Smith's Christmas Past, we can see that all Christmases are a series of overlapping circles of customs, beliefs, habits and stories. A work of scholarship, and also intensive poetry, Christmas Past gives us our own pasts back, and opens a path to exploring new futures. — Judith Flanders, author of Christmas: A BiographyMore details soon!🎅