What would Christmas be without this familiar story? A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens, recounts the redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge. The best-known and most popular Christmas story in the English language, A Christmas Carol was published in 1843 and hasn’t been out of print since.
Here are some facts you may not have known about this Christmas classic:
- Dickens wrote the story in just six weeks when he was thirty-one. He started writing in September and finished right before Christmas.
- Dickens was unhappy with the sales of his latest novel. He needed a best-seller; his wife was pregnant with their fifth child.
- At a party, Dickens met a Dr. Miles Marley and told the doctor: “Your name will be a household word before the year is out.”
- A Christmas Carol was a huge success. Six thousand copies were sold by Christmas Eve, and the book went through seven printings. Dickens had assumed production costs and so shared in the profits (a wise financial decision for him).
- With the success of A Christmas Carol, a new genre was born: the Christmas book.
- Dickens loved to perform A Christmas Carol for audiences throughout his life. It was both his first public reading and his last (three months before his death).
- This story helped to popularize the saying “Merry Christmas.” (“Happy Christmas” was more commonly said at the time.)
- “Bah, humbug,” one of the story’s most famous phrases, was uttered by Scrooge only twice.
- Dickens had a long-standing interest in ghosts and the paranormal. He was a member of the Ghost Club.
Although the ending is hopeful and heartwarming, I have to confess fondness for the irascible Scrooge at the beginning. I especially like Scrooge’s fervent wish that every fan of Christmas be boiled in his own pudding or buried with a stake of holly through his heart. However, in the spirit of the day, I’ll leave you instead with the kinder words from Tiny Tim: “God bless us every one.”