6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Cotswold Life today click here

Discovering the Legacy of the Man Who Invented Christmas

09:27 13 November 2015

L Frank Baum was an early and important innovator in festive window dressing

L Frank Baum was an early and important innovator in festive window dressing

Archant

Celebrating the legacy of lavish displays, Professor Barry Davies is presenting a Christmas themed public lecture at the University of Gloucestershire on Wednesday 25 November.

‘The Man who invented Christmas’ is inspired by L Frank Baum, author of books including The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, whose ‘illusion windows’ made him an early and important innovator in festive window dressing.

Professor Davies, an Emeritus professor and former Associate Dean of the University’s business school, will be exploring the retail impact of Christmas, from L Frank Baum’s enchanting window displays to how Christmas is marketed today, in the high street and beyond.

Barry said: “Baum was an incredible innovator and his displays literally stopped shoppers in their tracks. I’m looking forward to discussing how we are still fascinated by window dressing and advertising today, but also, like Baum, remain conscious of the business and retail motives behind the glitz.”

Professor Davies began lecturing at the University of South Wales in 1980, and first came to the University of Gloucestershire as professor in marketing in 1996. He worked in retailing (not doing window displays) for nine years before moving into academia.

The lecture is free and the evening begins at 5pm with refreshments, before the lecture from 6pm until 7pm. To book your place, please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-man-who-invented-christmas-tickets-19203019749

Here’s some more...

From the High Street to the Yellow Brick Road, the impact of the ‘man who invented Christmas’ is taking centre stage at the University of Gloucestershire.

It’s come a long way from a home-made gift and a bag of nuts. But from the village shop to the High Street chain, the Victorian Christmas still inspires our High Streets today.

And although he may be better known for immortalizing the Yellow Brick Road, the vision of L Frank Baum still paves our streets with colour and light.

The author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was also one of the earliest pioneers of the Christmas window display and the story of his legacy is at the heart of a public lecture at the University of Gloucestershire thanks to a public lecture by Emeritus Professor Barry Davies.

Held on November 25, The Man Who Invented Christmas focuses on Baum’s early innovations in display merchandising. Although he never trained as a window dresser, he published his The Art of Decorating Dry Goods Windows and Interiors: A Complete Manual of Window Trimming, Designed as an Educator in all the Details of the Art, According to the Best Accepted in 1900.

It wasn’t the only work he published that year. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz also appeared in bookshops and was a sensation long.

Barry, former Associate Dean of the University of Gloucestershire’s Business School, spent nine years working in retail before making the move to academia.

“I didn’t do window dressing either, but even in the digital age today’s windows owe a great deal to Baum’s vision. He took advantage of the recent technological changes of the day, which enabled windows to be bigger using sheet glass. Electric lighting was also taking hold and the changeover from windows stuffed with merchandise to a more creative approach was becoming a reality.”

Along with Christmas adverts, television specials and sales, the Christmas window display has become a seasonal tradition. For those hardy enough to brave Christmas shopping on the streets of London, Hamleys, Fortnum and Mason, and Harrods are just a few of the stores bring a sense of occasion to the shopping experience, in the same way as Baum at the end of the 19th century.

“He was a great advocate of mechanical trickery, and ‘illusion windows’,” said Barry. “One example he discussed in his work was ‘the vanishing lady’ by Charles W Morton, which fascinated shoppers. These new techniques were a world away from the confusion of goods in shop windows. With a keen sense of the theatrical he created window space for ideas to move, and bring customers through the door.”

Baum reached window dressing through an unconventional route, with a diverse career including retail as the owner of Baum’s Bazaar, performing and writing for the theatre, and as an editor and journalist, including editing a window dressing magazine. He launched a monthly trade journal, The Show Window: A Journal of Practical Window Trimming for the Merchant and the Professional in 1897 and founded the National Association of Window Trimmers of America.

“Baum really paved the way for the retailers of today,” added Barry, “and I like to think there’s a little bit of his legacy in every window we see today.”

More from Cotswold Life

Thu, 15:30

After a bed, mattress, headboard or bedroom furniture? For the best deals look no further than BedSOS...

Read more
Thu, 11:39

Five dishes, five wines all for £5.

Read more
Thu, 11:31

The Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards is undoubtedly one of the biggest events in the Cotswold calendar and this year is our 15th anniversary

Read more
Thu, 11:18

In the beautiful setting of Charingworth Manor, near Chipping Campden, The Cotswold Life team hosted an exclusive Burns Night client drinks evening

Read more
Thu, 10:55

Get hare-ing! From March 25, the Cotswolds will be teeming with 80 five foot-hare sculptures for visitors to spot throughout the region

Read more
Thu, 10:38

A new, exciting art fair is coming to the Cotswolds, so naturally we wanted to find out more...

Read more
Thu, 10:25

New vision brings RHS Malvern Spring Festival into full bloom in May

Read more
Thu, 09:39

Tickets can be booked with a £10 discount before Wednesday March 1 for this year’s Growing Gloucestershire Conference

Read more
Wed, 16:26

Low beamed ceilings, Cotswold stone and plenty of charm; the region boasts an abundance of delightful historic pubs. We pick 10 of our favourite to visit

Read more
Wed, 14:44

With an excellent reputation for outstanding results, dedicated advice and support to many businesses, SGS College Professional and Financial Services is also offering a range of qualifications suited to various business functions

Read more
Wed, 14:21

Cheltenham’s Pittville Pump will be the setting for Gloucestershire’s Young Enterprise trade fair on Wednesday March 8 from 12.30pm-5.30pm

Read more
Wed, 11:24

Explore and develop your individual style. Includes tea and coffee, pastries, champagne, and two-course lunch with wine.

Read more
Tue, 16:30

The classic tales of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are given a modern-day twist in this fantastically fun musical adaptation

Read more
Tue, 14:03

Announcing the Great British Flip Off, in store 24th - 28th February.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
Cotswold Life Application Link


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Cotswold's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search