1897 – “Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus” first published

It seems like such a cliché today, but 112 years ago, Francis Pharcellus Church, an editor of the New York Sun newspaper, was the first person ever to write that sentence, in an editorial entitled Is There a Santa Claus?

Church wrote the editorial, which featured that famous line, in response to a letter written by an eight year old girl named Virginia O’Hanlon. The editorial is written in the fine rhetorical style of the late 19th century, and as much as H.L. Mencken probably despised its sentimentality (one can almost hear him saying “Bah! Humbug!” upon reading it), he was in the minority.

Not only is it the most famous thing that Church ever wrote (or that the Sun ever printed), but it is also the most commonly reprinted newspaper editorial in the English language. Not a bad response for a little girl’s letter.

Referenced in:

Mrs. O – The Dresden Dolls

Christmas Special: “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”

“He sees you when you’re sleeping,
He knows when you’re awake.
He knows when you’ve been bad or good,
So be good for goodness’ sake.”

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