Christmas LegendsChristmas NewsChristmas PastChristmas Stories

The Tears of Charles Dickens

It is said the tears of Charles Dickens were shed as he wrote A Christmas Carol. During a brief period in the fall of 1843 Dickens would take late-night strolls on the streets of London as he mulled the story he was creating over and over in his head.

The more the story came together, the more he wept.

Some historians claim the story was written out of desperation. They claim Dickens had hit a “dry spell” and needed money badly. There is little evidence to back this up.

The truth of the matter is that Dickens was fed up with publishers and wanted to push out a self-published work so that he could make more money.

Ironically, the first edition of A Christmas Carol yielded Dickens little profit.

Published just a few days before Christmas the little book became an instant sensation. Just as he had wept during its creation the story seemed to touch the hearts of all those who encountered it.

Dickens would make his money on subsequent publications of the work — and indeed would go on the see the story adapted to the stage almost immediately. The story took on a life of its own during what could only be described as a magic moment in publishing and in Christmas history.

Reviewed positively if not enthusiastically in London, after it was published in newspapers the story “jumped the pond” to the United States where it quickly spread from publication to publication. Dickens suddenly found himself in great demand both for interviews in the media and, of course, to publish more fiction.

Some claim Dickens single-handedly rescued Christmas from the scrape heap of dead holidays. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Christmas was doing just fine without Dickens. In fact, Dickens benefited greatly from a surge of popular sentiment for Christmas. The buying public, especially in the United States, was clamoring for anything Christmas related during the years that A Christmas Carol was published.

Dickens fancied himself an actor, too. He had dallied in the stage while deciding on a career and was known for his quick wit and an ability to mimic others.

So it was no surprise that he took to performing A Christmas Carol through public readings. He would act all the parts and invent the voices of the characters. It was duty that Dickens relished. Not only did the audiences of the time eat it up but he had a great time doing it as well.

Can you think of any other work of fiction more well received? A Christmas Carol as has literally been in constant performance for nearly two centuries. Few works of culture have ever achieved such a remarkable level of multi-generational love.

The question, then, is this: have you read it as Dickens wrote it?

In our 21st century there is no doubt nearly everyone has seen an adaptation of some sort of A Christmas Carol. But do people ever actually still read it?

That is the question behind the effort was now call “Dickens in Days” — a breakdown of A Christmas Carol just as Dickens wrote it.

Charles Dickens

We believe that if read over the course of two or three weeks before Christmas you will develop a delightful habit that instantly puts you in the Christmas spirit. This was the claim many made back in the day in reading Dickens for themselves.

Writers like Dickens were the first media superstars. Reading was the sport of many during the Victorian era when there were no recordings, no films, no television and no radio.

With that in mind, it is easy to see how a storyteller like Dickens found fame.

Academics and modern critics actually demean the work of Dickens because it breaks through barriers of what is now considered “great writing”. According to them, Dickens was not a great writer.

We object to that if only because being a “great writer” is an eye-of-the-beholder type of thing. Besides, we’re looking at Dickens through the lens of Christmas. And his creation is simply critical to the season we love.

The great thing is that you can make up your own mind by just reading Dickens for yourself. We challenge you to do so.

Father of 7, Grandfather of 7, husband of 1. Freelance writer, Major League baseball geek, aspiring Family Historian.

Art the Bookworm

Chestnut Roaster
MMC Member
MMC Partner
Sep 5, 2018
242
288
20,270
42
Iowa
cozychristmas.libsyn.com
I read A Christmas Carol every year, as well as watch several movie versions. It's amazing that such a small book has had such a huge impact. It's such a wonderful story! I highly recommend reading it if anyone hasn't read the actual book.
 

Dickens' Ghost

Tinsel Straightener
MMC Member
MMC Premiere
Sep 30, 2019
31
34
1,020
39
Utah
I read A Christmas Carol every year, as well as watch several movie versions. It's amazing that such a small book has had such a huge impact. It's such a wonderful story! I highly recommend reading it if anyone hasn't read the actual book.
Agreed! I think this "Dickens in Days" idea is fantastic.

I first fell in love with the story as a wee lad through Mickey's Christmas Carol and, as a teen, came to appreciate the '38 adaptation with Reginald Owen. A short while after that I discovered the '51 edition with Alistair Sim and knew that I had discovered THE definitive adaptation. Two decades later I stand by the conviction that it is indeed the best!

I also appreciate the '84 version with George C. Scott, and the '09 animated film, though not one I ever feel much enthusiasm for revisiting, wasn't bad.

A few years ago I finally decided to sit down and actually read the book. It's a great piece of literature and just the right length for getting through during the month of December.

I have read it, maybe, two times. I think I will now give it another go-around using our prescribed reading plan that we've been given here.
 

Art the Bookworm

Chestnut Roaster
MMC Member
MMC Partner
Sep 5, 2018
242
288
20,270
42
Iowa
cozychristmas.libsyn.com
Agreed! I think this "Dickens in Days" idea is fantastic.

I first fell in love with the story as a wee lad through Mickey's Christmas Carol and, as a teen, came to appreciate the '38 adaptation with Reginald Owen. A short while after that I discovered the '51 edition with Alistair Sim and knew that I had discovered THE definitive adaptation. Two decades later I stand by the conviction that it is indeed the best!
The Alistair Sim version is one of my top favorites for sure. I also enjoy the Muppet Christmas Carol. But nothing beats the story itself. The more you read it, the more you get out of it. I still am finding new things and new thoughts that come from the story even after reading it all these times.
 

LadyLynn

The Christmas Freak
MMC Member
MMC Premiere
Jun 22, 2020
2,834
3,199
134,031
Utah
Agreed! I think this "Dickens in Days" idea is fantastic.

I first fell in love with the story as a wee lad through Mickey's Christmas Carol and, as a teen, came to appreciate the '38 adaptation with Reginald Owen. A short while after that I discovered the '51 edition with Alistair Sim and knew that I had discovered THE definitive adaptation. Two decades later I stand by the conviction that it is indeed the best!

I also appreciate the '84 version with George C. Scott, and the '09 animated film, though not one I ever feel much enthusiasm for revisiting, wasn't bad.

A few years ago I finally decided to sit down and actually read the book. It's a great piece of literature and just the right length for getting through during the month of December.

I have read it, maybe, two times. I think I will now give it another go-around using our prescribed reading plan that we've been given here.
I try to read it every year, ever since I was 11 and my great-grandmother gave me my first copy for Christmas.
 

Dickens' Ghost

Tinsel Straightener
MMC Member
MMC Premiere
Sep 30, 2019
31
34
1,020
39
Utah
The Alistair Sim version is one of my top favorites for sure. I also enjoy the Muppet Christmas Carol. But nothing beats the story itself. The more you read it, the more you get out of it. I still am finding new things and new thoughts that come from the story even after reading it all these times.
I revisited The Muppet Christmas Carol a few years ago for the first time since I was a kid and I thought it was pretty good. Michael Caine is a lot of fun in that one.

I also forgot the mention the '99 version with Patrick Stewart. My only real complaint about that one is the design of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, which is pretty awful. But overall it's quite good and certainly very good for a made-for-TV movie. A few years ago I was able to get a still from the film autographed by Stewart, which is nice.

My guess is that most people here have not even heard of the language Esperanto, but I happen to have a copy of A Christmas Carol translated into that language and I know enough about Eo to read it. What I have found to be an interesting exercise is to re-translate the Esperanto translation back into English and then see how the English translation compares to Dickens' original.
 

Dickens' Ghost

Tinsel Straightener
MMC Member
MMC Premiere
Sep 30, 2019
31
34
1,020
39
Utah
Very nice! Now I just need to get out my credit card. . .

That would be great to have though. I'd certainly display it prominently in my home. The story behind how Dickens' wanted it printed with only the best materials and color illustrations is quite fascinating. Literally no expense was spared.
 

MerryCarey

A Voice from the North
MMC Lifer
MMC Donor
Christmas Crew
Louann Jeffries Award
Santa's Elf
Kringle Radio DJ
Nov 6, 2008
27,362
82,575
5,209,381
New England, USA
Very nice! Now I just need to get out my credit card. . .

That would be great to have though. I'd certainly display it prominently in my home. The story behind how Dickens' wanted it printed with only the best materials and color illustrations is quite fascinating. Literally no expense was spared.
Actually, I picked a poor example, as that first edition has been re-bound. But go to Abe Books online and search for first editions. Some can be had for as “little” as $10,000 in worn condition. But there are also some facsimiles available for about $100.
 

Dickens' Ghost

Tinsel Straightener
MMC Member
MMC Premiere
Sep 30, 2019
31
34
1,020
39
Utah
Actually, I picked a poor example, as that first edition has been re-bound. But go to Abe Books online and search for first editions. Some can be had for as “little” as $10,000 in worn condition. But there are also some facsimiles available for about $100.
You know, I was looking at the binding and thinking that it looked unfamiliar, since I have seen pictures of first editions before.

I think that if I were going to buy a 1st Ed of A Christmas Carol, it would to either be in near-perfect edition or I just wouldn't buy it at all. Hopefully one day I'll have the money to do that.
 

MerryCarey

A Voice from the North
MMC Lifer
MMC Donor
Christmas Crew
Louann Jeffries Award
Santa's Elf
Kringle Radio DJ
Nov 6, 2008
27,362
82,575
5,209,381
New England, USA
You know, I was looking at the binding and thinking that it looked unfamiliar, since I have seen pictures of first editions before.

I think that if I were going to buy a 1st Ed of A Christmas Carol, it would to either be in near-perfect edition or I just wouldn't buy it at all. Hopefully one day I'll have the money to do that.
Near-perfect of the first edition, first issue is probably impossible to find—-the book was well loved. But it’s fun and interesting to search for original copies.
 

Perfct2u

Tinsel Straightener
MMC Member
MMC Premiere
Oct 21, 2020
35
8
420
37
Newark, DE, USA
If they were available, I would take a modern 'copy' of the original. Just to see the print type and color illustrations.
 

Dickens' Ghost

Tinsel Straightener
MMC Member
MMC Premiere
Sep 30, 2019
31
34
1,020
39
Utah
  • Like
Reactions: Perfct2u