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The Coming of Father Christmas by E F.…

The Coming of Father Christmas

by E F. Manning

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Recently added byAbigailAdams26



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"Through the mists and through the shadows, when the world is hushed and still, / When the bells' last peals have rung, when the carols all are sung, / Father Christmas comes in silence, climbing o'er the snow-clad hill, / The drowsy watchdogs hear no sound, no footsteps on the frozen ground; / Only robin redbreast sees him, / And begins his song to please him." And so begins E.F. Manning's Christmas story-poem, which forms the text of this lovely Victorian picture-book, first printed (I believe) in 1894. Following the much anticipated arrival of Father Christmas, subsequent passages detail the invitation extended to a group of poor, friendless city children, who are welcomed to the country by their rural compatriots, with whom they join in the feasting and dancing of a Christmas banquet for their mutual benefactor and guest. When shadows draw near, all the children gather round, and Father Christmas tells the story of the very first Christmas, when angels descended on Bethlehem. Eventually departing, as he must, he promises to visit again the next year...

With a beautifully decorative cover, heavy, gilt-edged paper, and fabulously ornate illustrations, The Coming of Father Christmas is a pleasure to hold, and to peruse. The poetry stumbles once or twice, but generally has a very nice rhythm, and reads well. The artwork, on the other hand, whether full color or black and white, is consistently delightful! With an intensely detailed engraving style, in the case of the black and white scenes, and a gorgeously colored, golden hued feeling (accomplished with copious use of gold ink and gilt), in the case of the full-color ones, the illustrations are breathtaking. The figures, whether of Father Christmas, the many children, or the peeping angels who hover above many of the full-page paintings, are charming, and the larger scenes appealing.

I feel very fortunate indeed, given how rare a book this is, and how costly to obtain, that I was able to read it this afternoon, in a rare book room here in the city. I don't know that contemporary children would find it that appealing, given the extensive text, but anyone with an interest in Victorian children's fare, or in historical depictions of Father Christmas and/or Santa Claus, will find much here to entertain and delight them! ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Apr 18, 2013 |
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