When did the idea of using a fireplace as a portal first become popular?
I am looking for any indication from writers, perhaps through interviews/posts where SciFi writers have explained the concept as to why a fireplace is used for such a portal - and what was the first popular example of such a portal. Aside from the stories about Santa Claus, my thoughts are that J.K. Rowling really brought forward the idea in the Harry Potter series (1997).
In Doctor Who ("The Girl in the Fireplace", 2006), the Doctor, Rose, and Mickey land on what appears to be an abandoned spacecraft in the future. Throughout the ship, the Doctor and his companions find several "time windows" that allow them direct access to 18th century France. One of the two-way windows is the fireplace, through which the Doctor and Mme. Pompadour can clearly see one another. The Doctor can use the fireplace, along with other "time windows" to travel between his time (on the spaceship) and Mme. Pomadour's 18th century France. The fireplace is the last remaining time window after all had been supposedly shut off.
There was a short story I remember reading when I was younger, there was a man inside of a fireplace and much like when at a bookcase and pulling a certain book to make it revolve, he pulled a lever inside and it revolved him into a what was described as a different time and setting.