A Christmas Carol is one of renowned author Charles Dickens’ more famous works. It is also known as A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas

Dickens wrote this Christmas themed book in 1843. A genius and futuristic decision on Dickens’ end to name the book A Christmas Carol, prophesying that the story will be repeated and shared amongst people annually just as carols are. And here we are 175 years later talking about what could only be described as the most well-known Christmas themed book of all time.

Marley’s Ghost, original illustration by John Leech from the 1843 edition (wikipedia)

A Christmas Carol is a novella that recounts the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserable and elderly London-based moneylender who is described in the novel as “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner”. The character is believed to have been influenced by Dickens’ conflicting feelings for his father, whom he both loved and demonised.  

Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley as well as the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. After their visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man.

The story portrays Scrooge as a paradigm for self-interest, and the possible repercussions of ignoring the poor, personified by the allegorical figures of Want and Ignorance. Dickens advocated a humanitarian focus of the holiday, which influenced several aspects of Christmas that are still celebrated in Western culture today, such as family gatherings, seasonal foods and drinks, dancing, playing games and having a festive generosity of spirit.

Scrooge and Bob Cratchit celebrate Christmas in an illustration from stave five of the original edition, 1843 (wikipedia)

Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in response to the British social attitudes towards poverty and wished to use the novella as a means to put forward his arguments against it.  Prior to that, Dickens had an interest in Christmas, and his first story on the subject was Christmas Festivities in 1835 followed by The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton in 1836. 

Published on 19 December 1843 and priced at five shillings (equal to £23 in 2018 pounds), the first run of 6,000 copies sold out by Christmas Eve.  The publishers issued second and third editions before the new year, and the book continued to sell well into 1844.By the end of 1844 eleven more editions had been released and since its initial publication, the book has been issued in numerous hardback and paperback editions, translated into several languages and has never been out of print. The book is Dickens’ most popular book in the United States, and sold over two million copies in the hundred years following its first publication there.

The transformative nature of the novel is eternal, making this book a classic best-seller anywhere in the world, and the perfect gift for your secret Santa!

Happy reading everybody, and a merry Christmas to all!