Wednesday, January 13th, 2021
In this episode, the Histories of the Unexpected duo, James and Sam, int into the festive spirit and take you on a historical sleigh ride of archival inquiry to unwrap the expected history of REINDEER! Which is all about the invention of Father Christmas’s reindeer in the anonymous poem ‘Old Santeclaus with Much Delight’ (1821), Clement C. Moore’s ‘Visit from St Nicholas’, also known as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ (1823), where he coined the names Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen, and L. Frank Baum’s story (he of Wizard of Oz fame) The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1902) in which they are renamed as Flossie and Glossie, Racer and Pacer, Fearless and Peerless, Ready and Steady, Feckless and Speckless. Rudolph at this stage was nowhere to be seen, until his invention in 1939 by Robert L. May, ad man at the Montgomery Ward Retail store in Chicago, who wrote the 2-million selling book Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, which later led to the Gene Autry hit, which sold over 25,000,000 copies! The unexpected history of reindeer is also all about the Wild Sports of the World: A Boy’s Book of Natural History and Adventure by James Greenwood (1862), and nineteenth-century pit traps! Who knew!
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