Whatever your belief or religious affiliation, the society would like to extend warm wishes for a blessed season of celebration, feasting and gifting this December 2021. We’ve never needed it more.
Christmas was an important holiday within the von Arnim imaginary: like so many seasons on the annual calendar, it weaves its way into her books and offers her opportunity for philosophical reflection, situational humour and charming domestic detail. In lieu of a Christmas card this year, here are two holiday gems from von Arnim’s oeuvre to cheer your spirits as we bring 2021 to a close.
It is the fashion, I believe, to regard Christmas as a bore of rather a gross description, and as a time when you are invited to overeat yourself, and pretend to be merry without just cause. As a matter of fact, it is one of the prettiest and most poetic institutions possible, if observed in the proper manner, and after having been more or less unpleasant to everybody for a whole year it is a blessing to be forced on that one day to be amiable, and it is certainly delightful to be able to give presents without being haunted by the convention that you are spoiling the recipient, and will suffer for it afterward. […] [F]or days beforehand, every time the three babies go into the garden they expect to meet the Christ Child with His arms full of gifts.
(December 27, Elizabeth and her German Garden, 1898)
And here is Kate Greenaway’s depiction of those same babies in her illustrations for The April Baby’s Book of Tunes (1900), which was written by von Arnim and published by MacMillan in time for gift-buyers at Christmas time in 1900:
Best wishes for a blessed holiday season and a new year full of health and literary inspiration!
From the International Elizabeth von Arnim Society executive.
PS. As we move into the new year of 2022, don’t forget your proposals for the Women Writers and Comedy conference, 1890-1950, which the society will be sponsoring in Cambridge in September 2022. Here’s the link if you want to submit a proposal or make plans to attend. We look forward to seeing you there!