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Shopping, Seduction & Mr Selfridge Hardcover – December 30, 2007

165 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Selfridge was a man ahead of his time, an accelerator of change, and he deserves to be remembered as the man who put the fun on to the shop floor and the sex appeal in to shopping. Sunday Express gripping and excellently researched. Literary Review In this energetic and wonderfully detailed biography, Lindy Woodhead tells not only the story of the rise and dramatic fall of Selfridge, the man, but also provides an enthralling description of fashion, politics, music and dance, the arts, the science of advertising and the use of the media, during the decades before the Second war. Evening Standard

About the Author

Lindy Woodhead worked in international fashion public relations for more than 25 years and in the late 1980s became the first woman on the board of directors of Harvey Nichols. She is the author of War Paint: The Biography of Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (December 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 186197888X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861978882
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,605,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Traveller on February 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
i bought the book having seen the first episode of the ITV production and was intrigued by the story knowing almost nothing about the history of the store. Lindy Woodhead writes in a style which is both easy to read and also contains fascinating comments about London society and the history of retailing. Selfridge comes across as a larger than life character , ahead of his time in terms of his understanding of consumer demands , skilful in his analysis of fashion, social trends and creating the "shopping experience ". His fall from grace and the loss of his store following shareholder pressure ,as gambling and squandering money on starlets dominates his later life, is a sad finale but somehow seems to fit with the character that he was and the world he created around the store. An excellent read.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By MT57 on April 28, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I went looking for this book after watching the Masterpiece Theater series that is based on it, "Selfridge". I found it enjoyable to read, thoroughly researched, and generally well written. I thought the author struck the right biographical balance between Selfridge himself and his times and the context around him. It contrasts with the series which, understandably as it is TV, has many more plots with little connection to Selfridge himself and a lot more emphasis on romance and sex than you will find in here. I was more interested in the way he changed retail culture and that was also the focus of this book, so I liked it a lot. The author has done a great deal of research and I felt confident I was reading a fairly accurate account. It read pretty briskly, as well, although toward the end, once the store is established, the narrative loses some steam and many paragraphs consist mainly of lists of things that happened in a particular year relevant to the store. Still, it held my interest consistently and was overall a well-done biography that I am glad I read.
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53 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Barry McCanna on October 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating account of the life and times of Harry Gordon Selfridge. It covers not just his career, but the changing fashions and world events that accompanied it, and the twin passions that fuelled his existence, and led ultimately to his downfall. The author lays bare Harry's double life; he was a widower with four children, and always appeared to be a very correct Edwardian gentleman. He never exercised droit de seigneur in the store, but his private life was a different matter, and the story is peppered with the names of showgirls on whom he lavished his affections, and showered with gifts.

Lindy Woodhead is an excellent guide on matters sartorial and cosmetic, but when it comes to the showbiz side of the story she is less assured. In 1910, we're informed, the public was dancing to big-band music, then buying phonograph wax cylinders to play the music at home (soon superseded by pressed discs in cardboard sleeves, courtesy of Columbia Records). In reality, the big-band genre did not appear for a further two decades, and the wax cylinder was already losing ground to the gramophone record by the turn of the century. Sleeves appeared around 1910 with the introduction of double-sided 78s, but the cardboard ones came courtesy of the retailer, manufacturers like Columbia and HMV provided paper sleeves.

On the subject of records, whilst it's true that sides for the Key label, which is mentioned on page 211, were selected by Christopher Stone and pressed by Decca, it's stretching a point to say that these were the top dance band hits of the day, recorded under the store's own label. The label used masters from Panachord and Winner, and only about thirty were issued, during 1933/34, usually under pseudonyms.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is an interesting portrait of the life of Harry Gordon Selfridge (1856-1947) and it is also a story of how retail shopping was both influenced by him and changed in the second half of the nineteenth century. Harry Selfridge did much to change Chicago department store Marshall Field, before being rejected when requesting partnership and deciding to 'go it' alone. He brought his ideas and experience to London where his ideas were always larger than life, excessive and theatrical. His plans were always expensive - as was his lifestyle. He devised so many innovations that they would be impossible to list now, but they are a staple (still) of all department stores - bargain basements, perfume and cosmetics at the front of the store, allowing customers to browse, etc. Sadly, his love of gambling and his flamboyant lifestyle eventually resulted in his empire crumbling, but still his influence is seen today. I think this is an interesting book, not only about Selfridge himself, but also about the times - women's fashions, changing aspirations and an era which is gone forever.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By L.I. LINDA on February 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
As a borderline Shopaholic,I loved this plot. it outlined the development of shopping as leisure.If you like this book,I urge you to read "The Ladie's Paradise"by Emile Zola.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Captain Tuna Can on January 28, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having enjoyed Masterpiece Theater's production of Mr. Selfridge (and eagerly awaiting the next season), I wanted to read a good biography on Mr. Selfridge. This book is easy to read and moves along through the years of Harry Gordon Selfridges' extraordinary life. Makes an interesting background for those of us who are following the Masterpiece series.
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