This winter, we are offering to you our own Christmas box – filled up to the top with the best Christmas novels, classics to read during holidays, magical Christmas tales, legends, most famous carols and the unique poetry of the giants of literature dedicated to this one and only holiday: The Gift of the Magi (O. Henry) The Holy Night (Selma Lagerlöf) A Merry Christmas & Other Christmas Stories (Louisa May Alcott) A Letter from Santa Claus (Mark Twain) Silent Night The Night After Christmas The Child Born at Bethlehem The Adoration of the Shepherds The Visit of the Wise Men As Joseph Was A-Walking The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Beatrix Potter) Where Love Is, God Is (Leo Tolstoy) The Three Kings (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) A Christmas Carol (Samuel Taylor Coleridge) Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (L. Frank Baum) Christmas At Sea (Robert Louis Stevenson) The Savior Must Have Been A Docile Gentleman (Emily Dickinson) The Heavenly Christmas Tree (Fyodor Dostoevsky) The Little City of Hope (F. Marion Crawford) The First Christmas Of New England (Harriet Beecher Stowe) Christmas in the Olden Time (Walter Scott) Christmas In India (Rudyard Kipling) A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens) The Twelve Days of Christmas The Wonderful Wizard of OZ (L. Frank Baum) Ring Out, Wild Bells (Alfred Lord Tennyson) Little Lord Fauntleroy (Frances Hodgson Burnett) Black Beauty (Anna Sewell) The Christmas Child (Hesba Stretton) Granny's Wonderful Chair (Frances Browne) The Romance of a Christmas Card (Kate Douglas Wiggin) Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame) The Wonderful Life - Story of the life and death of our Lord (Hesba Stretton) The Christmas Angel (A. Brown) Christmas at Thompson Hall (Anthony Trollope) Christmas Every Day (William Dean Howells) The Lost Word (Henry van Dyke) The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (E. T. A. Hoffmann) The Little Match Girl The Elves and the Shoemaker Mother Holle The Star Talers Snow-White The Christmas Hirelings The Blue Carbuncle An Exciting Christmas Eve The Spirit of Christmas…
- Short stories
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Louisa May Alcott was born on 29 November 1832 in Pennsylvania, and she grew up with plenty of books to read but seldom enough to eat. Louisa went to work when she was very young as a paid companion and teacher, but she loved writing most of all, and like Jo March she started selling sensational stories in order to help provide financial support for her family.
She worked as a nurse during the American Civil War but the experience made her extremely ill. Little Women was published in 1868 and was based on her life growing up with her three sisters. She followed it with three sequels, Good Wives (1869), Little Men (1871) and Jo's Boys (1886) and she also wrote other books for both children and adults. Louisa was also a campaigner for women's rights and the abolition of the slave trade. She died on 6 March 1888.
Charles Dickens was born in 1812 and became the most popular novelist of the Victorian era.
A prolific writer, he published more than a dozen novels in his lifetime, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and Hard Times, most of which have been adapted many times over for radio, stage and screen.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain, was born on November 30, 1835, in the tiny village of Florida, Missouri.
Writing grand tales about Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and the mighty Mississippi River, Mark Twain explored the American soul with wit, buoyancy, and a sharp eye for truth. He became nothing less than a national treasure.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, in 1564. The date of his birth is unknown but is celebrated on 23 April, which happens to be St George's Day, and the day in 1616 on which Shakespeare died.
Aged eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway. They had three children. Around 1585 William joined an acting troupe on tour in Stratford from London, and thereafter spent much of his life in the capital. By 1595 he had written five of his history plays, six comedies and his first tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. In all, he wrote thirty-seven plays and much poetry, and earned enormous fame in his own lifetime in prelude to his immortality.
Harriet Beecher Stowe was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, in 1811, the seventh child of a well-known Congregational minister, Lyman Beecher. The family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where she met and married Calvin Stowe, a professor of theology, in 1836.
Living just across the Ohio River from the slave-holding state of Kentucky, and becoming aware of the plight of escaping slaves, led her to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in book form in 1842. She wrote the novel amidst the difficulties of bringing up a large family of six children.
The runaway success of Uncle Tom’s Cabin made its author a well-known publish figure. Stowe died in 1896.
Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886) lived in almost complete isolation from the outside world, but maintained many correspondences and read widely.
Upon her death, Dickinson's family discovered 40 handbound volumes of her poems, which she had assembled herself.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He studied law but preferred writing and in 1881 was inspired by his stepson to write Treasure Island.
Other famous adventure stories followed including Kidnapped, as well as the famous collection of poems for children, A Child's Garden of Verses. Robert Louis Stevenson is buried on the island of Samoa.
Rudyard Kipling was born in India in 1865. After intermittently moving between India and England during his early life, he settled in the latter in 1889, published his novel The Light That Failed in 1891 and married Caroline (Carrie) Balestier the following year.
They returned to her home in Brattleboro, Vermont, where Kipling wrote the two Jungle Books and Captains Courageous.
He continued to write prolifically and was the first Englishman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907 but his later years were darkened by the death of his son John at the Battle of Loos in 1915. He died in 1936.
Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark, in 1805. His Fairy Tales, the first children's stories of their kind, which were published in instalments from 1835 until his death in 1875, have been translated into more than a hundred languages and adapted for every kind of media.
Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh on 15 August 1777. He was educated in Edinburgh and called to the bar in 1792, succeeding his father as Writer to the Signet, then Clerk of Session. He published anonymous translations of German Romantic poetry from 1797, in which year he also married. In 1805 he published his first major work, a romantic poem called The Lay of the Last Minstrel, became a partner in a printing business, and several other long poems followed, including Marmion (1808) and The Lady of the Lake (1810) . These poems found acclaim and great popularity, but from 1814 and the publication of Waverley , Scott turned almost exclusively to novel-writing, albeit anonymously.
A hugely prolific period of writing produced over twenty-five novels, including Rob Roy (1817), The Heart of Midlothian (1818), The Bride of Lammermoor (1819), Kenilworth (1821) and Redgauntlet (1824) . Already sheriff-depute of Selkirkshire, Scott was created a baronet in 1820. The printing business in which Scott was a partner ran into financial difficulties in 1826, and Scott devoted his energies to work in order to repay the firm’s creditors, publishing many more novels, dramatic works, histories and a life of Napoleon Bonaparte. Sir Walter Scott died on 21 September 1832 at Abbotsford, the home he had built on the Scottish Borders.
Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh in 1771, educated at the High School and University there and admitted to the Scottish Bar in 1792. From 1799 until his death he was Sheriff of Selkirkshire, and from 1806 to 1830 he held a well-paid office as a principal clerk to the Court of Session in Edinburgh, the supreme Scottish civil court. From 1805, too, Scott was secretly an investor in, and increasingly controller of, the printing and publishing businesses of his associates, the Ballantyne brothers.
J. M. Barrie (1860-1937) was fascinated by stories of his mother's life. He was determined to write, and worked on the Nottingham Journal after graduating from Edinburgh University.
In 1885 he successfully sold the Auld Licht Idylls, which were based on his mother's tales. By the time Peter Pan opened on the London stage in 1904, Barrie had written more than thirty novels and plays, such as Quality Street and The Admirable Crichton. He was created a baronet in 1913 and awarded the Order of Merit in 1922.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were born in 1785 and 1786 near Frankfurt, Germany. Their collections of folk and fairy tales have stood the test of time and still influence literature today.
Lyman Frank Baum, born May 15 1856, was an American author of children's books, best known for writing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He wrote thirteen novel sequels, nine other fantasy novels, and a host of other works (55 novels in total, plus four "lost" novels, 83 short stories, over 200 poems, an unknown number of scripts, and many miscellaneous writings), and made numerous attempts to bring his works to the stage and screen.
His works anticipated such century-later commonplaces as television, augmented reality, laptop computers (The Master Key), wireless telephones (Tik-Tok of Oz), women in high risk, action-heavy occupations (Mary Louise in the Country), and the ubiquity of advertising on clothing (Aunt Jane's Nieces at Work).
On May 5, 1919, Baum suffered from a stroke. He died quietly the next day, nine days short of his 63rd birthday.His final Oz book, Glinda of Oz, was published on July 10, 1920, a year after his death. The Oz series was continued long after his death by other authors, notably Ruth Plumly Thompson, who wrote an additional nineteen Oz books.
Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada, in 1874. Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908, was her first novel and has remained in print across the world ever since. Montgomery died in Toronto in 1942.
Russian author, a master of realistic fiction and one of the world's greatest novelists.
Tolstoy is best known for his two longest works, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, which are commonly regarded as among the finest novels ever written. War and Peace in particular seems virtually to define this form for many readers and critics. Among Tolstoy's shorter works, The Death of Ivan Ilyich is usually classed among the best examples of the novella. Especially during his last three decades Tolstoy also achieved world renown as a moral and religious teacher. His doctrine of nonresistance to evil had an important influence on Gandhi. Although Tolstoy's religious ideas no longer command the respect they once did, interest in his life and personality has, if anything, increased over the years.
Most readers will agree with the assessment of the 19th-century British poet and critic Matthew Arnold that a novel by Tolstoy is not a work of art but a piece of life; the 20th-century Russian author Isaak Babel commented that, if the world could write by itself, it would write like Tolstoy. Critics of diverse schools have agreed that somehow Tolstoy's works seem to elude all artifice. Most have stressed his ability to observe the smallest changes of consciousness and to record the slightest movements of the body. What another novelist would describe as a single act of consciousness, Tolstoy convincingly breaks down into a series of infinitesimally small steps. According to the English writer Virginia Woolf, who took for granted that Tolstoy was “the greatest of all novelists,” these observational powers elicited a kind of fear in readers, who “wish to escape from the gaze which Tolstoy fixes on us.”
Those who visited Tolstoy as an old man also reported feelings of great discomfort when he appeared to understand their unspoken thoughts. It was commonplace to describe him as godlike in his powers and titanic in his struggles to escape the limitations of the human condition. Some viewed Tolstoy as the embodiment of nature and pure vitality, others saw him as the incarnation of the world's conscience, but for almost all who knew him or read his works, he was not just one of the greatest writers who ever lived but a living symbol of the search for life's meaning.
Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann (1776–1822) replaced his third name, Wilhelm, with Amadeus in homage to Mozart. A towering figure of German Romanticism, Hoffmann was a composer, music critic, theater director, draftsman, and caricaturist as well as a writer. Although his stories challenged readers to free their minds from the conventions of reality, Hoffmann accepted the practical constraints of everyday life, training as a lawyer and serving as a judge.
William Wordsworth was born on 7 April 1770 at Cockermouth, in the English Lake District, the son of a lawyer. He was one of five children and developed a close bond with his only sister, Dorothy, whom he lived with for most of his life. At the age of 17, shortly after the deaths of his parents, Wordsworth went to St John’s College, Cambridge, and after graduating travelled to Revolutionary France.
Upon returning to England he published his first poem and devoted himself wholly to writing. He became great friends with other Romantic poets and collaborated with Samuel Taylor Coleridge on Lyrical Ballads. In 1843, he succeeded Robert Southey as Poet Laureate and died in the year ‘Prelude’ was finally published, 1850.
Eleanor H. Porter was an American novelist from New Hampshire, born in 1868.
Although trained as a singer, she later turned to writing stories for children and romance and adventure novels for adults.
Her most famous novel is Pollyanna, written in 1913. She wrote 15 novels and many short stories during her career. Porter died in 1920.
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), Russian physician, dramatist and author, is considered to be one of the greatest writers of short stories and modern drama. Born in Taganrog, a port town near the Black Sea, he attended medical school at Moscow University.
He began writing to supplement his income, writing short humorous sketches of contemporary Russian life. A successful literary careered followed, before his premature death of TB at the age of 44. He is best-remembered for his four dramatic masterpieces: The Seagull (1896), Uncle Vanya (1899), Three Sisters (1901) and The Cherry Orchard (1904).
Alphonse Daudet was born in Nimes in 1840. He made his name with gentle stories and novels portraying life in the French provinces, notably Lettres de mon Moulin (1869).
He died in 1897. His extraordinary notebooks detailing the effects of syphilis on his life were first published under the title In the Land of Pain by Daudet's widow in 1931.
The first English translation by Julian Barnes was published by Cape in 2002.
Hector Hugh Munro (1870 1916) was a British author best known by his pen name Saki.
Although he wrote two novels and several political sketches most notably The Westminster Alice, a parody authorized by Carroll's publishers it is his large output of satirical short stories for which he is remembered, and is still considered one of the masters of the genre.
Sarah Chauncey Woolsey was born in 1835 into a wealthy and influential family in Cleveland, Ohio. She worked as a nurse during the American Civil War before establishing a career as a successful and prolific writer of novels, short stories and poems.
Her most famous book, What Katy Did, published under her pseudonym Susan Coolidge, was inspired by her own childhood growing up in a large family with younger siblings. Its publication in 1872 was followed by four sequels. She never married and lived most of her adult life in Rhode Island where she died in 1905.
William Morris (1834-1896) was one of the most influential thinkers and artists of his time. At Oxford, with the painter Burne-Jones, he fell under the influence of Ruskin and Rossetti.
Preoccupied with the poverty of modern design he taught himself at least thirteen crafts and founded his own design firm, Morris & Co.
In the late 1870s he became active in political and environmentalist matters and converted to socialism in 1883, helping to found the Socialist League a year later.
William Makepeace Thackeray was born in Calcutta in 1811. On his way to England from India, the small Thackeray saw Napoleon on St Helena.
In 1837, Thackeray came to London and became a regular contributor to Fraser's Magazine. From 1842 to 1851, he was on the staff of Punch, and this was when he wrote Vanity Fair, the work which placed him in the first rank of novelists. He completed it when he was thirty-seven.
In 1857, Thackeray stood unsuccessfully as a parliamentary candidate for Oxford. In 1859 he took on the editorship of the Cornhill Magazine. He resigned the position in 1862 because kindliness and sensitivity of spirit made it difficult for him to turn down contributors.
Thackeray drew on his own experiences for his writing. He had a great weakness for gambling, a great desire for worldly success, and over his life hung the tragic illness of his wife Isabella, with whom he had hree daughters, one dying in infancy.
Thackeray died December 24, 1863. He was buried in Kensal Green, and a bust by Marochetti was put up to his memory in Westminster Abbey.
Andrew Lang was a Scots poet, novelist, literary critic, and contributor to the field of anthropology.
He is best known as a collector of folk and fairy tales.
The Andrew Lang lectures at the University of St Andrews are named after him.
Frances Hodgson Burnett was born in Manchester in 1849 and moved to America in 1865, where she launched a literary career in which she produced over forty books including A Little Princess (1905) and The Secret Garden (1911). Frances died in 1924.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1859 and died in 1930. Within those years was crowded a variety of activity and creative work that made him an international figure and inspired the French to give him the epithet 'the good giant'.
He was the nephew of 'Dickie Doyle' the artist, and was educated at Stonyhurst, and later studied medicine at Edinburgh University, where the methods of diagnosis of one of the professors provided the idea for the methods of deduction used by Sherlock Holmes. He set up as a doctor at Southsea and it was while waiting for patients that he began to write.
His growing success as an author enabled him to give up his practice and turn his attention to other subjects. His greatest achievement was, of course, his creation of Sherlock Holmes, who soon attained international status and constantly distracted him from his other work; at one time Conan Doyle killed him but was obliged by public protest to restore him to life.
And in his creation of Dr Watson, Holmes's companion in adventure and chronicler, Conan Doyle produced not only a perfect foil for Holmes but also one of the most famous narrators in fiction.
Willa Cather was born in Virginia in 1873 and moved to Nebraska, with its wide open plains and immigrant farming communities, at the age of nine.
This landscape would deeply affect her later writing. She attended university and became a journalist and teacher in Pittsburgh, and then a magazine editor in New York.
Her first major novel, O Pioneers!, appeared in 1913, and was followed by two more in her prairie trilogy: The Song of the Lark and My Antonia. She lived with the editor Edith Lewis for thirty-nine years until her death in 1947.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, where he wrote the bulk of his masterful tales of American colonial history.
His career as a novelist began with The Scarlet Letter (1850) and also includes The house of the Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance, and The Marble Faun.
Washington Irving was born in 1783 in New York City. In addition to writing fiction, Irving studied law, worked for his family's business in England and wrote essays for periodicals.
Some of his most famous tales, including Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, were first published under the pseudonym Geoffrey Crayon.
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