Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge
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Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  558 ratings  ·  112 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...more
Paperback, 352 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...more
May 09, 2014 Blondie~♔ rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone

I was looking at books whilst shopping in Sainsburys today, when suddenly this book jumped out at me. The cover caught my eye because its very similar to the BBC series "The Paradise" and as its based on a True Story I bought it.
This is such a nice easy read. Harry Selfridge was an amazing person. I found this to be an very inspiring story....and I know I could of easily fallen head over heels In love with someone like Harry Selfridge.
I quite admire people like this that have ambition...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...more
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
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
Having watched the first two series of Mr Selfridge and enjoying them whole-heartedly, I was overjoyed to find the book that the show was based upon staring at me from a shelf at my local library I had to read it - and am I glad I did? Yes.

While not usually a fan of biographical books, I found 'Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge' enthralling from the very outset, eager to read, and read ... and read on. Lindy Woodhead transports the reader back to a time period that I have personally always f...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....more
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...more
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  (too many books?!) 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...more
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 wa...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
If you like the show, I think you will like this book. This book is a history of Harry Selfridge and his eponymous department store, but it is also a history of shopping, fashion, Britain, the rise of the middle class, and the dramatic economic and political changes that occurred in Britain during the first third of the twentieth century. I absolutely loved it.

There are some huge differences between the book and the show, so definitely do not go into the book with expectations of reading about...more
Nancy Lorenz

This book surprised me. I thought it was about the making of PBS's show, Mr. Selfridge, or, a serialized fiction; however, it was an in-depth look at the rise of the grand department store from Chicago's Marshall Field's to London's Selfridges. It is a bio of sorts, but incorporated much more detail than a typical biography. For instance...

What I like most about this book is the historical detail about shopping during the late 1800's and early 1900's, reading about the big retail tycoons (Field,...more
If this wasn’t for a book club read, I don’t think I would’ve picked it up. I have nothing against non fiction reads, but for me, I like to be catapulted into a make-believe world with made up characters. Reading for me is an escape.

I found the book interesting at points, but in some parts it is very dry. I found myself skimming the text to get through it. Some parts are particularly heavy going as well. The book did have some strong points though. I liked reading about Harry’s ideas, especially...more
Cross posted from my blog, Lily Actually

I recently finished this book, Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge, by Lindy Woodhead, on which the ITV series was based. My mum was enjoying the TV series so I thought I'd get the book (as you do...)

Judge a book by its cover
Meh. It could have been worse, I guess. I probably wouldn't have picked it up if I didn't know about the tV series as it looks like one of those 'gritty real life dramas.'

It's not obviously over-researched but it seems all to...more
NYLon Carry On
This is not a book about a department store. Which is good, because I would have had no interest in a book about a department store.

This book has sooooo much more to it...

It has... American history, UK history, European history, the history of two wars, a history of Chicago, the Titanic plays a part in this story... several family histories, some rich, come poor, some american, some not, including the histories of royal families, from multiple countries... Elizabeth Arden is in this book, the c...more
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Lindy Woodhead worked in international fashion public relations for over twenty-five years. During the late 1980s she spent two years as the first woman on the board of directors of Harvey Nichols. 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 contributo...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

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