‘If I could work my will,’ said Scrooge indignantly, ‘Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.’ This year go carol-singing in the Cotswolds with Laurie Lee or attend church with a grumpy Samuel Pepys. Make plum puddings for bemused French villagers with Elizabeth David; go present shopping with Virginia Woolf or eat far too much with Agatha Christie. Celebrate Christmas at Chatsworth, in the workhouse or marooned in the ice with Shackleton. For the last 45 years, the arrival of John Julius Norwich’s latest Christmas Cracker has become as essential a part of the Christmas experience as holly and mistletoe. In ‘An English Christmas’ the legendary popular historian has finally gathered all the best writing about this strangest and most memorable time of year.