As promised in my last blog post, we have now added a little seasonal item to our current foyer display which celebrates the bicentenery of Dickens’ birth. In the middle of writing Martin Chuzzlewit, and during a period of financial difficulty, Dickens would write the story that is unquestionably his most beloved work: A Christmas Carol. Published on December 17, 1843, with illustrations by John Leech, this fable of spiritual renewal received rapturous reviews and became an instant success. Feuding with his publishers, Dickens financed the publishing of the book himself, ordering lavish binding, gilt edging, and hand-coloured illustrations and then setting the price at 5 shillings to make it more affordable. This combination resulted in disappointingly low profits, despite high sales. A Christmas Carol is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a heartless old miser who undergoes a miraculous rebirth precisely at Christmas, the only time “in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open up their hearts freely.” None of Dickens’ other novels have entered the general consciousness as much as this book with its pervasive vision and philosophy of Christmas as a family feast and Dickens’ name has been irrevocably associated with celebrating Christmas ever since.
and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed that knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!
For more on this book, please see the Highlights of Our Collection virtual display.