The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, the beloved Christmas story by Barbara Robinson, began life as a short story published in McCall’s magazine in 1970. Robinson developed it into a novel, published by Harper Trophy in 1972, and the popularity of the horrible Herdmans led to the creation of a theatrical adaptation in 1982, and a television movie in 1983, both written by Robinson.
The stage premiere of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever took place at the Seattle Children’s Theatre on November 26, 1982. It has gone on to achieve immense popularity as a play, with a number of theatres across the country making it an annual tradition. As of December 2016, there are over 200 productions taking place across the United States.
Barbara Robinson stated that she did not base the Herdmans on any real-life acquaintances, but the atmosphere of the school, neighborhood, and church in which the The Best Christmas Pageant Ever takes place reflected on the community and the personalities she came in contact with as a child growing up in a small Ohio town, with a schoolteacher mother who brought home stories of juvenile mischief.
Wikipedia. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TheBestChristmasPageantEver. Accessed December 5, 2016.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Interview with the Author of this month’s focus book, ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.’ December 5, 2006. Accessed online December 5, 2016. http://www.post-gazette.com/life/my-generation/2006/12/05/Interview-with-author-of-this-month-s-focus-book-The-Best-Christmas-Pageant-Ever/stories/200612050246.