The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits

The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits

Les Standiford

Language: English

Pages: 122

ISBN: 2:00193747

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


As uplifting as the tale of Scrooge itself, this is the story of how one writer and one book revived the signal holiday of the Western world.

Just before Christmas in 1843, a debt-ridden and dispirited Charles Dickens wrote a small book he hoped would keep his creditors at bay. His publisher turned it down, so Dickens used what little money he had to put out A Christmas Carol himself. He worried it might be the end of his career as a novelist.

The book immediately caused a sensation. And it breathed new life into a holiday that had fallen into disfavor, undermined by lingering Puritanism and the cold modernity of the Industrial Revolution. It was a harsh and dreary age, in desperate need of spiritual renewal, ready to embrace a book that ended with blessings for one and all.

With warmth, wit, and an infusion of Christmas cheer, Les Standiford whisks us back to Victorian England, its most beloved storyteller, and the birth of the Christmas we know best. The Man Who Invented Christmas is a rich and satisfying read for Scrooges and sentimentalists alike.

From the Hardcover edition.

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to think of anything but that.” To his fellow novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton (whose novel Paul Clifford started with the now-famous line “It was a dark and stormy night”) he would confide, “I was so closely occupied with my little Carol (the idea of which had just occurred to me), that I never left home before the owls went out; and led quite a solitary life.” Driven by such singlemindedness, Dickens completed work on the manuscript in late November, scarcely six weeks after he had begun. And

paper by declaring, “Mr. Dickens here has produced a most appropriate Christmas offering and one which, if properly made use of, may yet we hope, lead to some more valuable result…than mere amusement.” Mackay, a subeditor at the paper, went on to say, “It is impossible to read this little volume through, however hastily, without perceiving that its composition was prompted by a spirit of wide and wholesome philanthropy—a spirit to which selfishness in enjoyment is an inconceivable idea—a spirit

author, sinking into the chair at his desk, hoping that his first quick glance at the bottom line had been askew, a vision, the result perhaps, as Scrooge might have put it, “of an undigested bit of beef” or a crumb of cheese. He would have placed the account sheet on the desk before him, adjusted his lamp, perhaps rubbed his face just to get the blood running before he checked again: Calm down now, Dickens, take it as it comes, first things first: Proceeds from sales, tops on the list. “6,000,

colorful dialogue, was a natural for the stage, and the adaptations (carefully cataloged by Dickens scholar H. Philip Bolton) began to appear almost immediately. On Monday, February 5, 1844, three productions opened simultaneously in London. One, titled A Christmas Carol: or, The Miser’s Warning, a drama in two acts, was penned by C. Z. Barnett and performed at the Surrey Theatre. Described by critics as “much grimmer” than the others, and lacking any songs, its run was brief. A second, Scrooge,

Christmas dinner. The Saturday Evening Post found such charity offensive and laid the blame on Dickens, for, in the opinion of the editors, “A great Christmas dinner, in the minds of many, cancels the charity obligations of the entire year.” Callow also quotes Lord Chesterton in response to suggestions that the practice be stopped: “Doubtless he [Dickens] would have regarded the charity as folly, but he would also have regarded the forcible removal of it as theft.” SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

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