John Julius Norwich produced his first Cracker in 1970, as a little Christmas gift for his friends. The format never changed: each one contained twenty-four pieces, taken from the ever-expanding collections in his commonplace books.
As a fresh Cracker appeared every year, friends and strangers began sending him their own literary plums. Over the years it grew into a glorious unofficial club, open to anyone who wanted to join. This is the forty-ninth Cracker. Sadly, it is also the last. John Julius put it together earlier this year and died on 1 June.
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