As one of the world's most widely read poems, C. Clement Moore’s "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (1822) has strongly influenced society's conception of Santa Claus, drastically transforming America’s perception of St. Nicholas over the past two centuries. Before the poem’s publication, St. Nicholas was portrayed as a lanky, stern bishop who visited children to dispense both gifts and discipline. Arthur Rackham's 1931 illustrated version, "The Night Before Christmas" recast St. Nicholas into a cheerful, rosy-cheeked elf and established Christmas as a time for giving gifts to children.
Look twice the next time you see marbled end papers in your favorite book. If the design you see is hand done, and not a lithographic facsimile, the resulting pages are very special indeed.