Santa Author Addresses Who Wrote ‘The Night Before Christmas’
On the Bicentennial of Famous Christmas Poem, a New Book Challenges Claim That a Poughkeepsie Farmer, Not Clement C. Moore, Was the Author

In "The Fight for The Night; Resolving the Dispute Over Authorship of 'The Night Before Christmas,'” author Tom A. Jerman, citing historical, biographical, stylistic and stylometric evidence of authorship, addresses the claim that a Poughkeepsie farmer, Henry Livingston, Jr., wrote America's favorite poem rather than Clement C. Moore, the wealthy, erudite, New York seminary professor who has been consistently credited with authorship for almost 200 years. The poem, which marks its bicentennial this year, was originally published anonymously on December 23, 1823, in The Troy (N.Y.) Sentinel under the title “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” and Moore claimed authorship in 1836. In 2000, however, Don Foster, a Vassar College English professor and self-proclaimed “literary detective,” asserted in his book, Author Unknown, that the real author was Livingston, who purportedly read the poem to his family in 1808. 

The upshot of Foster’s book and a similar treatise by New Zealand professor MacDonald P. Jackson in 2016 was that the media and some scholars began to describe the authorship of “The Night Before Christmas” as an open question. In "The Fight for The Night," Jerman explains how the poem’s reliance on an 1821 children's book, The Children’s Friend, that tells the story of “Santeclaus” delivering presents on Christmas Eve in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer precludes any claim that Livingston wrote the poem between 1800 and 1808. 

About the Author

Tom A. Jerman is the author of Santa Claus Worldwide: A History of St. Nicholas and Other Holiday Gift-Bringers (2020), a book that has been called the “definitive history” of Santa Claus. He holds degrees in philosophy (B.S.), journalism (B.S.) and law (J.D.), and practiced law for 35 years with two international law firms before retiring in 2015 to document the history of Santa. Jerman’s interest in Santa Claus dates from 1985, when he began collecting Santa Claus figurines and ornaments—a collection that now numbers some 4,500 pieces.

Contact Information:
Tom Jerman
[email protected]
1 (301) 266-5605

Original Source: Santa Author Addresses Who Wrote 'The Night Before Christmas'