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Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  726 ratings  ·  131 reviews
If you lived at Downton Abbey, you shopped at Selfridge’s.

Harry Gordon Selfridge was a charismatic American who, in twenty-five years working at Marshall Field’s in Chicago, rose from lowly stockboy to a partner in the business which his visionary skills had helped to create. At the turn of the twentieth century he brought his own American dream to London’s Oxford Street w
Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published October 1st 2007)
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Having visited Selfridges several times, I was very curious about this book. It was delightfully entertaining and educational.

The biography traces Harry Gordon Selfridge's life and career, beginning with his youth in Chicago. He hones his marketing skills at Marshall Field's and, when his desired partnership is denied, he moves his family to London to start the store of his dreams.

Selfridge seems to have been the predecessor of The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage
Mar 15, 2013 Sharon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
As someone drawn to this book because I so enjoyed the tv series based on it I didn't know what to expect. For those looking for a pure biography of the man it is not, it is much more. It gives you hints about Selfridge his life to a point but it also sets it in historical context. Putting things in the right place unlike the tv series did. His wife must have been a very strong articulate women as she had her own interests in building and architecture. Sadly in the series she is not given the ch ...more
Irving Koppel

This is an amazing story of a small town boy from Wisconsin who had a genius for merchandising.It is
also a book that traces the liberation of women from the restraints of excessive,uncomfortable clothing to the modern,much less cumbersome apparel of today. Harry Selfridge's story is a true "rags
to riches"story.

While impoverished in his youth,he took his innate business skills to Chicago where he became second in command to Marshall Field at Field's department store. He then took the skills wh
Harry Selfridge was a truly remarkable man. Nicknamed "Mile-a-minute" Harry on account of his dynamism and ideas, he inspired and delighted most of those he met. His working life was devoted to retail and his creativity and energy transformed shopping, both in Chicago and more significantly in London's Oxford Street where he opened and developed his iconic department store. What also shined through in this book, in addition to his genius for retail, was his humanity and kindness. He was not some ...more
Selfridge & Co. opened in Oxford Street in 1909. This is the story of the shop and its founder, H. Gordon Selfridge. The 'blurb' describes Selfridge as a showman and he did stage a lot of elaborate publicity stunts, but they were about getting the public into his store much more than making a show. He spent on advertising, pioneered window dressing and displayed his merchandise where his customers could see and touch it. These days 'window dressing' suggests a superficial display with nothin ...more
This review is the result of winning a GoodReads giveaway.

To be perfectly honest, I saw the cover of this book and realized it was the book the series “Mr. Selfridge” was based on. I was planning on watching the show so I wanted to read the book. While the series says it is based on this book, it is heavily fictionalized. So don’t go looking for your favorite on-screen characters to make an appearance in the book. Only Selfridge, his family and some historical figures make the transition.

The boo
If you've looked at my non-fiction shelves you know I find the history of retail totally fascinating and this book is an excellent entry in that genre. The Crawley sisters would definitely have shopped at Selfridges on their trips to London; but don't let the cover reference to the Masterpiece Theater series "Mr. Selfridge" lead you to expect a soap opera. This is a well-researched biography of the man, and because the store was pretty much his life, it's an excellent history of the store. Too b ...more
The PBS series on Selfridge's is very popular and conveys how the real Harry Gordon Selfridge's personality quite well. This nonfiction book goes into details about his early life in America and his life in England. While Harry became a lady's man in his later years, was addicted to gambling and loved spending beyond his means, he also loved his wife. He loved his children but did not spend much time with them and when the girls married, he paid all the bills for them and their husbands. His so ...more
Not being a Londoner, Selfridge's is not a store I visit very often or indeed even think about. It was only after the ITV series Mr Selfridge began airing that this book came to my attention, and what an interesting little read it was. I never would have expected to become so engrossed in the history of a retail magnate, of business innovations, of a department store!

Harry Gordon Selfridge really paved the way for the art of shopping as we know it today. So many things that we take utterly for g
Having glimpsed parts of the PBS broadcasted episodes, I was interested in reading the whole story. This is a very well done biography, but if you are looking for fast paced and similar to the broadcast version, you will be very disappointed.
Selfridge is a very driven man with incredible ideas that revolutionized the shopping experience. The photos included in the book are essential in visualizing the window and store displays, as well as the immensity of the building he constructed. But with
Elizabeth Moffat
I didn’t manage to catch any of the recent successful TV series Mr Selfridge when it aired in the UK, but it was based on this biography by Lindy Woodhead, and when my book club picked it as May’s choice of book I was intrigued to find out more about Harry Gordon Selfridge and his famous store. Harry was a bit of a pioneer in the retail world, a ball of energy, and incredibly creative and dedicated. He worked his way up in the department store Marshall Field’s in Chicago, which was developed and ...more
Maggie Craig
This book is a tour de force. Full of fascinating facts and colourful people, it reads as a easily as a novel. Billed on the cover as "the true story that inspired the ITV drama", it's the non-fiction version of Harry Gordon Selfridge's life and the eponymous department store he created in London's West End 100 years ago.

Selfridge was an American who'd had a successful career in retail in Chicago when, in his early fifties, he brought himself and his family across the Atlantic to fulfil his drea
Dav'ne (Davney)
I am absolutely enjoying this book! Having seen the PBS mini-series a few months ago I am fascinated about how all the "shopping stuff" we see today was pioneered in Paris, Chicago and London and how Marshall Field, Harry Selfridge and the like changed the face of retail. Well written and interesting. Having seen the series, I can also imagine Harry, his style, his passion, his women and gambling, and yet, his devotion to his mother, wife and children. Wonderful!

Had to finish this book so that B
Sherri Stephens
I watched the series not to long ago and of course wanted to find out more about this man. He was a true pioneer in the area of shopping. So many of the sales techniques that are used today were his idea. He was not however the most stalwart of husbands and he had many mistresses. Although names are changed many of the things in the tv series are based on true events and/or people. Interesting read esp if you enjoy bios and the 1920's.
Got this from the library because it's the book on which the television series was based. Reading the book I found out the show plays fast and loose with the truth, and Mr. Selfridge played fast and loose with show girls at various times in his life, but mostly in his declining years when neither his wife nor his mother were around as moderating influences. The book itself is organized more like a scrapbook outlining significant events and achievements, rather than a biography that makes a story ...more
While at times the book loses focus, it is still an interesting account of the life of Harry Selfridge, the man who understood people and taught us how to shop. Underneath the story of his life we see the story of the start of the Age of Consumerism.
Jennifer Lafferty
This book provided some interesting insight concerning the life and character of retail pioneer Harry Selfridge. The creative and cutting edge entrepreneur who first made a name for himself at Marshall Field's before revolutionizing retail in London with his own iconic department store, had a a life that was colorful, to say the lest. This book carefully chronicles his life and the history of Selfridge's with impressive detail. The book does drag at times. Parts of the book are a little too acad ...more
Amanda Barrett
A great fan of the TV miniseries Mr Selfridge, I was keen to find out more about the history of the store, Mr Selfridge, his wife, children, mistresses and employees of his store. In this book written by Lindy Woodhead, I found a very comprehensive facts and figures guide to the history of retail. I did enjoy the sections about Mr Selfridge’s early life and career in Chicago, through to the opening of his store in London. There was a lot of name dropping of famous figures that were involved in t ...more
Katy Noyes
4.5 stars

I admit, I only decided to try the (audio) book because I've watched and enjoyed the TV series. But I knew that I wasn't getting just the story of the show.

If you're expecting the story of the TV characters, you would likely be disappointed. This is not that story. This is the real (I hope so anyway) story of Selfridge, his family, store and ideas, but also that of his contemporaries, peers and the fascinating social history of shops and shopping at the turn of the century.

I loved it.
Ok, so I picked this up because I was curious how much of the PBS Masterpiece mini-series was true. I didn't think I would find the story of Selfridge's life as moving and heartbreaking as I did.

First off, the mini-series has most things about his life in the ballpark. They did merge some real-life characters together, but most of the major events that happen to Selfridge in the series did, in some way, take place. They did change his age. Selfridge didn't even start his London store until he wa
Can a book be too detailed and not detailed enough at the same time? I snapped this one having seen the PBS offering "Secrets of Selfridges" and quite a few of the episodes of the BBC production "Mr. Selfridge". A very interesting read and I could not help but think of something the author said in the PBS special. When she first became interested in Selfridge, she was talking with British historians and asked if much had been written about him. They answered no, perhaps because he was an America ...more
This fit in very well with Downton Abbey and "To Marry an English Lord". Similar time period and characters. I'm looking forward to the new TV series that starts tonight "Mr. Selfridge". I'll be watching it while you all start Downton Abbey Season 3! Enjoy--and keep your kleenex close by!
Subject matter quite fascinating, but they author jumps around chronologically, assumes reader knowledge about some things and over-explains others. I imagine this is a great story, wish this book told it better. Perhaps the upcoming PBS Masterpiece will do just that!
Ellie Cook
What I really wanted from this book was a glimpse into the changes in shopping that Selfridge brought around. What I got was a gossipy, disordered stream of prose that lacked clear information. Disappointing.
Linda  "The Book Lady" Warner
As a historian, I love history books. If you are watching public television maybe you have watched Mr. Selfridge on Masterpiece Theater. This book is the real history. I love Mr. Selfridge the TV show and this book.

Selfridge was a self made man. His father disappeared after the American Civil War and his mother had to support Harry and his brother, both of which never lived long. From Ripon WI just 13-14 miles from where I sit, which surprised me. He finally goes to London and starts Selfridge's
Leah K
Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge by Lindy Woodhead
310 pages

Harry Gordon Selfridge was an American man who would become one of the fathers of modern retail. In late 1800s, many retail stores were meant for the rich. Things were almost always custom made at high prices and items were kept behind glass, meant to look not touch. Selfridge thought it should be open, that it should be an interactive experience, that everyone and not just the rich should get to shop, and he thought England was t
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Like many people, I fell in love with Downton Abbey. After that aired on PBS, the next Masterpiece Classic was about Selfridge's, a large department store in London. This book describes the life of Harry Gordon Selfridge and how he created his store. He was one of the first to use store windows to display products, allow customers to come in just to look, and allow customers to touch the merchandise they were considering buying among many other firsts. The book is very well written and I truly e ...more
It was easy to read and engaging but the author's presentation of facts and historical figures/events was a little jumbled and hard to follow. Lots of interesting facts and if you are an expert on this period of time you'll appreciate the guest lists of Selfridge's parties and other historical references. The book delivers on its title: tons of interesting tidbits on Mr. Selfridge, the store, the time period and what shopping was like back then, and the many many women in Selfridge's life. I can ...more
Marsella Johnson
Very interesting book that the popular PBS series "Mr. Selfridge" is based on. Harry Selfridge was the B.T. Barnum of the retail business. He was flamboyant, but principled and good to his employees. An egotistical womanizer who adored his wife and mother. He had a "little man" complex and was impeccably dressed at all times, he expected higher standards but his retail staff adored him. He built one of the biggest retail empires of his time but died broke. A man of many contradictions, but that ...more
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Lindy Woodhead worked in international fashion public relations for over 25 years. During the late 1980s she spent two years as the first woman on Harvey Nichols' board of directors. Lindy retired from fashion in 2000 to concentrate on writing; her first book, War Paint (Virago), a biography of Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, was published in 2003. She is a regular contributor to The Specta ...more
More about Lindy Woodhead...
War Paint: Madame Helena Rubinstein and Miss Elizabeth Arden: Their Lives, Their Times, Their Rivalry Midnight Mother: Mrs Meyrick – The Most Notorious Nightclub Owner in 1920s London Mr Selfridge

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“The whole art of merchandising,” he said, “consists of appealing to the imagination.” 0 likes
“The whole art of merchandising,” he said, “consists of appealing to the imagination. Once the imagination is moved, the hand goes automatically to the purse.” 0 likes
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