Carol Ann Duffy’s enchanting Christmas poems

Showcasing the great Carol Ann Duffy’s bold and innovative voice alongside beautiful artwork from master illustrators, these Christmas poems make the perfect stocking fillers. Read on for our guide to these literary festive favourites.

Magical and moving in equal measure, Carol Ann Duffy's Christmas poems never fail to warm the soul. Their stories span both countries and centuries, from the tale of the miraculous truce between the trenches on a cold winter's night in 1914, to the fairs held on the frozen Thames during the Great Winter of 1683. These beautifully illustrated pocket-sized hardbacks make thoughtful stocking fillers for book lovers and poetry fans and are perfect for reading by the fire over the festive season.

Read on for our guide to these enchanting works, and for more Christmas gift ideas for book lovers, don't miss our Christmas gift guide.

Christmas Eve at The Moon Under Water

by Carol Ann Duffy

Book cover for Christmas Eve at The Moon Under Water

In the enchanted world of The Moon Under Water, a hedgehog plays the piano as a myriad of creatures enjoy a Christmas Eve tipple together, pulled by the pub’s feathered landlord. When he announces a contest for the best performance of a Yuletide song, the order of the natural world is suspended as predator and prey ring in the season together in one voice. Celebrating the majesty and fragility of Britain’s flora and fauna, Carol Ann Duffy’s newest Christmas poem, illustrated by artist Margaux Carpentier, is a true delight to enjoy this season. 

Advent Street

by Carol Ann Duffy

Book cover for Advent Street

Illustrated by Yelena Bryksenkova.

In the enchanting poem, Carol Ann Duffy invites readers to open the windows on Advent Street. In each one is a gift. You may find yourself back-straight watching a ballerina, poised to begin, or catch your lips moving in time with a festive song that drifts out into the night. Whatever the surprise, when the curtains draw back and the lights sharpen, Duffy’s beguiling words paired with captivating illustrations call you inside to feel the warmth.

Another Night Before Christmas

by Carol Ann Duffy

Book cover for Another Night Before Christmas

Illustrated by Rob Ryan

It's the night before Christmas and a young girl creeps down the stairs, determined to find out for certain whether Santa is real . . . But try as she might, she can't keep awake and is soon fast asleep.

She doesn't stir, even when Santa and his reindeer land on her roof-top - but then, when he bursts out of her fireplace, she wakes to a room filled with magic.

Frost Fair

Book cover for Frost Fair

Illustrated by David Le Heras

On a snowy day in London our narrator explores ‘ the town on the Thames’, with an atmosphere of festive revelry in the air. She sees jugglers, a dancing bear and even a wedding, and meets many new friends to spend a starry night upon the ice with.

Here, Carol Ann reads an extract from Frost Fair in the beautiful setting of St Albans Cathedral.

Pablo Picasso's Noël

by Carol Ann Duffy

Book cover for Pablo Picasso's Noël

Pablo Picasso's Noel follows the famous painter as he moves through a small town in the south of France on Christmas Eve, drawing the residents and the festive scenes he encounters. Accompanied by his small dog, he brings delight as he sketches wherever he goes. A wonderful, moving new poem capturing both the magic of Christmas and artistic inspiration.

Beautifully illustrated and produced in a gorgeous small format, this is an irresistible festive gift and Christmas stocking must-have for all book lovers.

The King of Christmas

by Carol Ann Duffy

Book cover for The King of Christmas

Illustrated by Lara Hawthorne

On a frosty winter evening, the Baron watches the snow fall. He is bored and worried. It will soon be Christmas and everything is too quiet. What can he do to bring excitement to the Manor?

His wife, the Baroness, has an idea: he can appoint a King of Christmas, a peasant to take his place. And so begin twelve days of chaos, anarchy and merriment . . . 

Watch our beautiful animation for Carol Ann Duffy's The King of Christmas.

The Wren-Boys

by Carol Ann Duffy

Book cover for The Wren-Boys

Illustrated by Dermot Flynn

It is a cold day in Ireland, the 26th of December; frost lies thick on the blackthorn. A man walks the just-waking village, banging on every door, summoning the boys. Today is St. Stephen's Day, when legend has it that the Saint was betrayed by a wren's call, and the boys are off to the forest where they hope to find the traitorous bird and capture it by nightfall. But what will they do if their prey escapes them?

Dorothy Wordsworth's Christmas Birthday

by Carol Ann Duffy

Book cover for Dorothy Wordsworth's Christmas Birthday

Illustrated by Tom Duxbury

It is Christmas Eve, 1799, and Dorothy Wordsworth is awake in the dead of night. She stands outside in the winter cold, waiting patiently.

When the new day breaks it will bring family and friends to Dorothy's door. For tomorrow is a double joy: tomorrow is her Christmas Birthday.

The Christmas Truce

by Carol Ann Duffy

Book cover for The Christmas Truce

Illustrated by David Roberts

Down at the Front, on a cold winter's night in 1914, amidst the worst war the world had ever seen, an inexplicable silence spread from man to man. Belief was in the air. Then the soldiers ceased fire and the magic of Christmas took hold . . .


by Carol Ann Duffy

Book cover for Bethlehem

Illustrated by Alice Stevenson

Bethlehem is normally a quiet little town on the edge of the desert. But tonight, as dusk falls, there is a sense of something special in the air.

An inn packed with revellers, shepherds sprawled on the grass, animals in their stables: everything will be changed when a bright star bearing news arrives in the sky.


by Carol Ann Duffy

Book cover for Wenceslas

Illustrated by Stuart Kolakovic

Beginning with the King's Cook, who is preparing a sumptuous Christmas Pie, Wenceslas takes us to a medieval feast.

The lords and ladies are at their places, the wine is in full flow, the musicians are playing in the gallery and the entertainment has begun. All should be perfect. But when the good King looks up from his table he sees something more than just snow, falling deep and crisp and even . . .

Mrs Scrooge

by Carol Ann Duffy

Book cover for Mrs Scrooge

Illustrated by Posy Simmonds

With her husband, Ebenezer, now 'doornail dead', the coldest Christmas Eve on record finds Mrs Scrooge outside the supermarket, protesting against consumerism and waste. Just as Ebenezer did, Mrs Scrooge keeps to her frugal ways . . . but with the current state of the world, perhaps Mrs Scrooge has the right idea.

That night, alone in her bed with Catchit the cat beside her, Mrs Scrooge is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. As each in succession takes her by the hand and sweeps through the scenes of her life, Mrs Scrooge learns not only what the 'Christmas Spirit' really means, but the nature of the real gifts we give and receive.

Christmas Poems

by Carol Ann Duffy

Book cover for Christmas Poems

For the first time, this beautiful collection brings together the illustrated Christmas poems that Carol Ann Duffy created for readers every year during her decade-long tenure as Poet Laureate. 

Duffy's unique style and magical verse are reflected in artwork from Rob Ryan, David De Las Heras, Lara Hawthorne and others. A perfect gift for those in search of festive, much-loved poetry this Christmas.

Image credit: Tom Duxbury