© British Library Board
The figure of Father Christmas evolved considerably throughout the 19th century. At the start, this personification of festive traditions was known as 'Old Father Christmas': a thin, gaunt man who advocated merry-making and drinking among adults. By the mid-late century, however, his role and apearance had been transformed as revealed by this illustration from the 1874 Christmas edition of the Graphic newspaper. He had acquired the now-familiar rotund belly, red robes and black boots, and was by now associated with the giving of presents.