the role of the Christmas festival in Dickenss writings, but rather to trace the influence of the Christmas tradition on the development of his work. In particular the widespread notion that Dickens invented Christmas, upheld as a fact in Peter Ackroyds broadly popular biography, is to be faulted by an overview of the celebration of the festival as it had been practised in England before his time. To this end David Parker engages in an extensive account of the various customs and pastimes associated with Christmas from the beginnings of Christianity in England to the early nineteenth century, commencing somewhat inconsistently with a digression into analogous Chinese festivities. This part of the study offers a wide range of detailed information, mostly though not exclusively relying on secondary sources. It may stand on its own as an exhaustive and attractively written companion to English Christmas customs throughout the ages.