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Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,582 ratings  ·  224 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
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Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published October 1st 2007)
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3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,582 ratings  ·  224 reviews


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Sharon
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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Sharon
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Beth (bibliobeth)
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
Nigeyb
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Cathy
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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Susan
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Ellie Cook
Mar 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
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.
Irving Koppel
Jul 27, 2013 rated it liked it

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
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John
Reasonably enjoyable biography of the American founder of the Selfridge's Department Store in London. I found the earlier chapters, especially concerning Chicago and the rise of the Marshall Field Department store, to be especially interesting. By the later chapters, once he moved to London, it felt like the author engaged in a little too much name-dropping. I also question whether the author adequately investigated her claims that Selfridge brought many innovations to London retailing (not help ...more
JB Rowley
Aug 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I was fascinated to discover the origins of the famous Selfridges store and surprised to learn that its creator was not an Englishman but an American who dazzled London ‘after twenty-five years working at the celebrated store Marshall Field & Co. in Chicago.’

Mr Selfridge’s understanding that women liked to be seduced into buying rather than badgered was significant to his success. He was enthusiastic, innovative, passionate about the retail business and a bold entrepreneur fertile with brill
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Davney Stahley
Sep 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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Caroline
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british-history
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
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Sallee
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
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
Maggie Craig
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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Debra
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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Kb
Dec 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, non-fiction
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
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Jennifer Lafferty
Aug 23, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Linda  "The Book Lady" Warner
May 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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Debra Duhoux
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let's go Shopping!

I first watched the PBS series Mr. Selfridge starring Jeremy Piven. Loved it. So, when this was book offered on Kindle I grabbed it. It was well worth buying as it is wonderfully written and extremely well researched. A lot of the story lines on the PBS series were fictionalized but not to the point of distraction but reading this put it into perspective. Our modern shopping stores are the result of Harry Gordon Selfridge's imaginative and acute business sense. We shoppers owe
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Marsella Johnson
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Sherri Lynn Stephens
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Phebe
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
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!
Laurie
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Soaring Leaves
Never seen the show that people mentioned (might watch later), I bought a paperback version in Sainsburys, lost it on some mountain in Taiwan, and bought a hardback copy recently to finish it.
Harry Gordon Selfridge seems to have been a very interesting & charismatic man, with many innovative ideas and open to new concepts. Hence why I bought it again to finish it, because the idea of man himself was carrying the book.

Weird thing is, it starts of detailing about Mr. Selfridge, then when he ge
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Debbie
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Transforming shopping and British retailing

Harry Gordon Selfridge had already made his mark in American retailing at Marshall Fields. He wanted to go it alone or at least as a partner. Maybe America was too small for Harry. He had ginormous dreams an he acted on them! He was a kid and Oxford Street, London was his playground. He promised to change shopping forever, and he did.

Woodhead did an excellent job of portraying early -20th century life in America and in Britain. The main difference was s
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Maxine Purdy
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you're expecting the book to be anything like the series forget it-it was the inspiration for the drama not a word for word dramatisation of the book. Instead, it is a book about Harry Gordon Selfridge and the times in which he lived, somewhat of a social commentary of the early twentieth century.

Apart from the rise and equally rapid fall of HG Selfridge, the book introduces names of other businesses also rising at that time, that today are very well known-Waring and Gillows for one and remem
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Priscilla King
Mar 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: business and marketing majors
This is the true story of the man behind a hugely successful store. A phrase someone used here, "wealth porn," comes to mind. This book can be read as a story of how Harry Selfridge succeeded and others can, too...except that a lot of other captains of commerce of this period, Richard Sears, Montgomery Ward, J.C. Penney, et al., seem to have been nicer men who succeeded with nicer stores. So it's not my favorite in its genre, but it's not bad. "Seduction" in the title refers to seducing shoppers ...more
Lindstromsteph
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harry Selfridge revolutionized commerce as to what we know it to be today. He was a man ahead of his time. He used: advertising, aroma (sense of smell invokes memory & emotion), window dressing (not done before), Marshall Fields experience in customer service ("the customer is always right,"), and hiring the best staff.
The writer shows both the good and evil in Selfridge. A man who believed the best in people, cherished his wife & four children. He also lived above his means, never owne
...more
Catherine
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer
Dec 20, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Disappointing. This book reads like a meandering college research paper. It is a web of historical information diverging in many directions without a strong common flow moving from beginning to end. I was hoping for a more personal look at the man's life and time, not rabbit trails discussing obscure topics like the early upbringing of Selfridge's mentor's mentor.

Aside from my disappointment with the topic and its handling, the author's writing ability is there, and I was not deterred by the wri
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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
“The whole art of merchandising,” he said, “consists of appealing to the imagination.” 2 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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