“The Christmas Carol” is celebrating its 175-year anniversary.
Charles Dickens’ classic story about a scrooge who changes his ways overnight after a visit from three ghosts, was published Dec. 19, 1843.
According to History.com, Dickens was born in 1812 and attended school in Portsmouth. His father, a clerk in the navy pay office, was thrown into debtors’ prison in 1824, and 12-year-old Charles was sent to work in a factory. The miserable treatment of children and the institution of the debtors’ jail became topics of several of Dickens’ novels.
Dickens became a reporter and started publishing short stories when he was 21. He married Catherine Hogarth, in 1836, and would go on to have nine children with her.
“A Christmas Carol” came out well before The New York Times began publishing in 1851. The novel — with beautiful illustrations by John Leech — was a best-seller in both England and the United States. But because there were no international copyright laws, Dickens didn’t make a cent from American editions.
In December 1855, the paper quoted “A Christmas Carol” in a front-page Christmas Day piece about holiday traditions around the world: “Let us raise our voice with Dickens … ‘Give three cheers for the Christmas old. …’”
An article in the online edition of the New York Times, states that Dickens arrived in New York City in December 1867. He held a sold out public reading on Dec. 9, 1867, where he read “A Christmas Carol” to a crowd at Steinway Hall.
“Mr. Dickens makes free use of gesticulation. … He stirs the gravy, when telling how Mrs. Cratchit made it; mashes the potatoes with something of Master Peter’s ‘incredible vigor,’ dusts the hot plates as Martha did, and makes a face of infinite wonderment and exultation when shouting, in the piping tones of the two youngest Cratchits, ‘There’s such a goose, Martha!’”
Dickens died on June 9, 1870.