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.
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.