Today, 17th December, in 1843, Charles Dickens’ festive classic, A Christmas Carol, was published for the first time.
The first print was for 6,000 copies and they sold out by Christmas. Dickens had already had success with the Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and the Old Curiosity Shop. A second run of 2,000 were commissioned they sold out by12th night on 6th January 1844.
Just like many of his works, the well known tale of A Christmas Carol, has a moral tale high lighting the social concerns of Victorian London. The 1840s was a period of depression and the poor were in need of charity and compassion. Dickens himself came a difficult background and his father ended up in debtors prison.
Despite the good sales of A Christmas Carol, it was not enough to turn a profit each copy was 5 shillings however the illustration that Dickens commissioned for the work meant that it had high production costs.
The characters from this book have become part of our cultural make up. The main
character Ebenezer Scrooge has become synonymous with mean and tight fisted people and his catch phrase Bar Humbug is used describe grumpy miserable people.
The supernatural element of the story would have appealed to the Victorian audience. Seances and the spiritualism movement was in its peak in the 1840’s.
There have been many film versions made over the years some dating as early as 1901. versions of note included 1970 – Scrooge staring Albert Finney and Alex Guinness, 1983 Mickey’s Christmas Carol with Mickey et al, Muppet Christmas Carol with Michael Caine and Kermit and the gang and 2001, Christmas Carol: The Movie an animated film with Simon Callow, Nicholas Cage and Kate Winslet, who also sings the theme song. Blackadder have also parodied the take in a Christmas special. The story has also been adapted for radio stage and even opera.
I have said many times that I am not a big fan of Dickens, I much prefer his contemporary Anthony Trollope, but A Christmas Carol is as much a part of Christmas as Turkey, Sprouts and chocolate coins. Long may Dickens tale live.