|Mary Clive photographed by Cecil Beaton at around the time Christmas with the Savages was published. Image National Portrait Gallery Collection|
I also thought, as it was Christmas, that I would share a few of my favourite Christmas books, first those for children and then those for adults. However, there is no reason why the adults should not read the children's books, why should they get all the fun?
The Snowman, Raymond Briggs - I read and watch this every Christmas, essential, see also his Father Christmas
Mog's Christmas, Judith Kerr - Mog gets scared of the walking, talking Christmas tree
Lucy and Tom's Christmas, Shirley Hughes - a gentle, London Christmas, I also want to read Alfie's Christmas and The Christmas Ghost
A Christmas Story, Brian Wildsmith - lovely retelling of the nativity story with pictures reminiscent of medieval manuscripts
The Jolly Christmas Postman, by Allan and Janet Ahlberg - packed with little surprises and wonderful illustrations
For older children
I love Noel Streatfield's descriptions of Christmas in books like Ballet Shoes* and Gemma, if you can get hold of it second hand she did an anthology, The Christmas Holiday Book, which is well worth looking for.
Likewise the Christmas in Little Women by L M Alcott is very special.
Just William At Christmas, Richmal Crompton - hilarious, I dip into this every year.
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens - I'm not particularly a Dickens fan, but this is a gem and even if you feel you know the book from the numerous versions of it, it's well worth reading the original. The descriptions of Victorian London at Christmas are wonderful.
Christmas Pudding, Nancy Mitford - very funny as she always is
The Everyman Book of Christmas Stories - a lovely collection and beautifully produced book
The Virago Christmas Book - a mix of writing about Christmas, not all soft and fluffy
Treasure on Earth, Phyllis Sandeman - out of print, but still available, autobiographical account of an Edwardian Christmas at Lyme Park in Cheshire. It is a delight and makes a nice companion to the Mary Clive book.
Finally, I would love to read Michael Morpurgo's Christmas stories, am hoping for P L Travers' recently re-released Aunt Sass and this year also plan to read Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales, as well as re-acquainting myself with the Paddington Christmas stories in the free copy of More About Paddington that came with the Radio Times. While researching this I did find that Penguin have released a lovely looking collection of Christmas classics including Anthony Trollope's Christmas stories.
You have probably realised by now that I love Christmas books, what are your favourites?
I have thoroughly enjoyed The Year in Books series by Circle of Pine Trees, you can see the other December entries here. I look forward to seeing what she suggests for 2015, certainly I shall continue to write about books, I do enjoy it.
*Try to get an edition with the original illustrations by Noel Streatfeild's older sister Ruth Gervis, which Streatfeild apparently felt had captured the book perfectly. With such a perfect partnership between author and illustrator it seems a pity to me ever to change them, it would be like publishing Roald Dahl without Quentin Blake's illustrations.