My favorite Christmas story is the Ghost story of Jacob Marley. We never pair ghosts with Christmas, that’s more of a Halloween thing. Yet, Charles Dickens wrote this ghost story for Christmas. I remember reenacting the play in sixth grade; I was a ghost. I can’t seem to remember which one though.
The story has been made into movies, cartoons, plays, painted, drawn, and illustrated — but have you read the original?
“A Christmas Carol
” was published on Dec. 17, 1843. It was titled:
A Christmas Carol
Being A Ghost Story of Christmas
When Charles Dickens wrote the story, he was broke, in debt and his wife was pregnant with their fifth child. He needed a quick best seller and wrote the Christmas Carol in 6 weeks. The first printing of 6,000 copies sold out in three days. However, he didn’t make as much money as he figured. The cost of the eight illustrations, four of them hand-colored made it more expensive.
The etchings were done by John Leech, who had abandoned his medical studies in the face of bankruptcy and was supporting his family by drawing. These were tough economic times.
The book reflected much of Dicken’s own childhood. At the age of 12, Charles Dickens was forced from school and sent to work at a boot-blacking factory for 6 schillings a week. He glued labels on bottles of black polish. His father, a clerk in the navy pay office had been thrown into Marshalsea debtors’ prison for a debt to a banker. Charles had to support the family. It was 1824 — Victorian England and these experiences shaped his views and his writing.
A Christmas Carol was probably Dickens most well-known book. It brought the joy of Christmas into the home, which was a new idea in Victorian England.
Home in Portsmouth:
Where he lived while working in the blacking factory when his father was in debtors prison:
Dicken’s Later Home was Gad’s Hill Place in Kent: He had seen this home as a young lad and his father had told him if he worked hard he may one day be able to enjoy a home like this, which became a dream come true.
First Edition Images: University of Glasgow
Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. With Illustrations by John Leech. London: Chapman & Hall, Dec 17,1843.