In 1843, A Christmas Carol appeared. It was the first in a series of successful Christmas books, "a whimsical sort of masque intended to awaken loving and forbearing thoughts"--by Charles Dickens. He financed the publishing of the book himself, with gilt-edging and hand-colored illustrations. It's one of the most popular work that Dickens ever created. By Christmas, the book had sold 6,000 copies.
The Popularity Continues
Between the time the book was first published until May 1844, the popular book went through seven editions. Unfortunately, even thought the sales continued to be good, Dickens earned very little money from the sale of the book.
A pirate edition of the book was published by Lee and Haddock in January of 1844. Even though Dickens took the Lee and Haddock to court and won, they went out of business, so Dickens did not win any monetary gain by his lawsuit.
Secret to Success?
It's not surprising that the story was popular when it was first released, and it's probably not even that shocking that the story has continued to demand attention. A Christmas Carol contains something for almost everyone: love, hate, death, ghosts, a miser, and a cute little boy. The story is interesting, as the story jumps back and forth in time, reminding the old miser Ebenezer Scrooge about the misery and joy he'd once enjoyed, before his vision was clouded by greed.
The three spirits (ghostly visitors) come to see Scrooge on this Christmas Eve to give him a final chance to mend his ways. Christmas Past takes Scrooge on a tour of his childhood, with the loss of his fiance, and the good times he had with Mr. Fezziweg. Then, Christmas Present shows up to show him how Scrooge's nephew, Fred, is celebrating the holidays, etc. Finally, Christmas Present shows him the dire consequences he and the Cratchit family will face, if he doesn't change.
When Scrooge's traumatic experience in the past, present and future is over, Scrooge emerges a new man. The story is catchy... It seems to strike a cord, no matter if you are rich or poor, young or old. In fact, through the years, we want to hear the story over and over again. Perhaps the greatest indication of success is the adaptations and re-adaptation of a work of literature down through the ages.
E.M. Forster once noted of Dickens: "He had the power of projecting himself into shapes and suggestions of his fancy which is one of the marvels of creative imagination, and what he desired to express he became."
"A Christmas Carol" is powerful in the lesson that even the worst of individuals can be transformed, with a new self awareness and understanding of the past and present... and what these time elements can mean for the future.
- Christmas Carol; or Past, Present and Future (1844), dramatic adaptation
- Scrooge; or, Marley's Ghost (1901), silent film
- Awakening of Scrooge (1905), sound recording
- Christmas Carol, A (1910), directed by Thomas A. Edison, silent film
- Scrooge (1913), directed by Leedham Bantock
- Christmas Carol, A (1917)
- Christmas Carol, A (1921), suite for 2 pianos in 2 parts
- Scrooge (1922), directed by George Wynn
- Scrooge (1923)
- Scrooge (1935)
- Christmas Carol, A (1938), directed by Edwin L. Marin
- Leyenda de Navidad (1947), directed by Manuel Tamayo
- Scrooge (1951), directed by Brian Desmond Hurst
- Christmas Carol, A (1954), directed by Ralph Levy (TV)
- Christmas Carol, A (1955), operetta in 2 acts
- Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962), animated
- Carol for Another Christmas (1964), directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (TV)
- Scrooge (1970), directed by Ronald Neame
- Christmas Carol, A (1972), directed by Richard Williams
- Christmas Carol, A (1977)
- Scrooge (1978)
- Stingiest Man in Town, The (1978), directed by Jules Bass & Arthur Rankin, Jr.
- American Christmas Carol (1979), directed by Eric Till
- Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983), directed by Burney Mattinson
- Christmas Carol, A (1984) (TV)
- Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988), directed by Richard Boden (TV)
- Scrooged (1988), directed by Richard Donner
- Muppet Christmas Carol, The (1992), directed by Brian Henson
- Bah, Humbug!: The Story of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"
- (1994), directed by Derek Bailey
- Christmas Carol, A (1995)
- Ebbie (1995), directed by George Kaczender (TV)
- Ms. Scrooge (1997), directed by John Korty
- Christmas Carol, A (1997), directed by Stan Phillips (II)
- Christmas Carol, A (1999), directed by David Hugh Jones (TV), with Patrick Stewart as Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge
- A Whimsical Sort of Masque
- 'A Christmas Carol' Text
- Questions for Study and Discussion
- Vocabulary / Terms
- Charles Dickens Biography
- 'Charles Dickens: His Life and Work' Review
- Charles Dickens Quotes