A fine Christmas tradition

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Whether we like it or not, the festive season will soon be upon us! But amid the commercial frenzy of gifts and baubles, one of the gentler and more literary Christmas customs endures among die-hard traditionalists: writing and sending seasonal cards.

The London Library has issued its own Christmas card since 1986, and in recent years they’ve been more popular than ever. Some of our best-known artists and illustrators have graciously accepted the Library’s commission – and the very small fee we offer – and produced designs of exceptional wit and charm. In 1990, Posy Simmonds showed a group of ‘carol-whisperers’ in St James’s Square, being semi-sternly shushed by a Library staff member. Quentin Blake, in 2003, depicted a scholar working deep in the stacks, surrounded by books but dreaming of a slice of Christmas pudding. Alexis Deacon’s 2009 card gathered together a group of festive book worms, gazing hungrily at a stack of volumes whose titles include Turkey and Christmas Crackers. Other artists, including Ronald Searle, John Lawrence and Hugh Casson, have brought their own perspectives on a London Library Christmas, from eminent members returning overdue books to a questionable-looking Santa quietly filling his sack from the stacks.

Posy Simmonds, 1990

Quentin Blake, 2003

This year’s wonderful design is by John Vernon Lord, whose acclaimed work has ranged from an album cover for Deep Purple to exquisite illustrations for the writings of Lewis Carroll (an exhibition of John’s illustrations for Through the Looking Glass is on at The Illustration Cupboard, very near the Library, until 5th November). John’s own children’s book, The Giant Jam Sandwich, has been loved by families for some thirty years.

Cards can be purchased from our online shop for £5 per pack of 8 cards and envelopes, including postage and handling; or for £4 per pack from the Library’s Reception. They are a lovely a way to support and spread the word about the Library, and to participate in one of our best-loved traditions.

Next time you’re in the Library, don’t forget to pop down to the Basement, where you will find a framed selection of past Christmas card designs hung proudly on the wall, for a little bit of festive cheer all year round.

Alexis Deacon, 2009

John Vernon Lord, 2011