A Christmas Craze – The Fern Madness!

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10A Victorian Christmas card in our Nature’s Library Gallery, Manchester Museum

The Fern Madness!

“I wish it could be Christmas, every day…” So goes the popular song, but at Manchester Museum we do have a Christmas card on display 365 days a year, in the Nature’s Library gallery.

But what plants are those? Are they herbs for Christmas dinner? Are they plants grown in the house over Christmas? No, not at all – these are ferns, and they are here as a remnant of the Pteridomania or ‘Fern Madness’ that swept the nation in the Victorian era. The term ‘Pteridomania’ was coined by Charles Kingsley in 1855:

“Your daughters, perhaps, have been seized with the prevailing ‘Pteridomania’…and wrangling over unpronounceable names of species (which seem different in each new Fern-book that they buy)…and yet you cannot deny that they find enjoyment in it, and are more active, more cheerful, more…

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