Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Biography Podcast

The Biography Podcast debuted yesterday with a lively conversation between host Chris Gondek and the author of Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge, Lindy Woodhead. While the subject was certainly interesting, I was at first a bit surprised that the first offering was a discussion of a book published in Great Britain. Toward the end of the conversation, Gondek did explain that an American edition is coming in March, which I then verified on Baker & Taylor.

Harry Gordon Selfridge sounds like an interesting character. The founder of the famous London department store was actually an American, born in Ripon, Wisconson, and an employee of Marshall Fields in Chicago for twenty-five years. He is credited with the phrase "____ shopping days 'til Christmas." He is also credited with introducing women sales clerks to the British shopping public, who up to that point (around 1904) had been served only by men in London's finest stores. Later, when the suffragettes broke windows in their campaign for the vote, they spared Selfridges. After his wife died, he became enamored with the scandalous Dolly Sisters, vaudeville dancers who had a knack gambling.

Gondek says that the podcast, which will distribute twice a month, will focus on both the books and the art of writing biography. If the first episode is an indication, it should be an entertaining series that will turn more people to biography.

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