What would the Christmas season be without A Christmas Carol? A Charles Dickens’s Christmas Carol, that is. The beloved story which was adopted into film a few times and is frequently staged during the holiday season in a theatrical production near you captures the essence of the Christmas spirit. The book itself is the world’s most read Christmas story, and is inspired by a trip that Dickens took to Manchester to witness the conditions of the manufacturing workers there. The story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the three spirits who conduct him on his journey to spiritual redemption has certainly remained an all time favorite through the ages.
What may come as a surprise, however, is that Charles Dickens’ brilliancy in capturing what is truly the Christmas spirit did not end with A Christmas Carol. In fact, Dickens continued to write four more additional Christmas stories, in the years following the success of the holiday favorite.
A Christmas Carol published by Chapman and Hall on December 17th of 1843, was the first of five Christmas books written by Dickens. Each year after that during December, with the exception of The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain which took two years to complete, a new Christmas story was delivered by the master storyteller of family sentiment and moral life. They are as follows:
16th of December 1844: The Chimes was written while Dickens was living away from the streets of London that had inspired his work of A Christmas Carol.
20th of December 1845: The Cricket on the Hearth is a return to the more popular “change of heart” theme, this time with hard-hearted toymaker named Tackleton.
19th of December 1846: The Battle of Life is viewed as not quite a completed work, as Dickens struggled to deliver yet another popular Christmas book.
19th of December 1848: The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain is the final Christmas book that Dickens took an extra year to write. It resembles the original Christmas Carol style.
The original first editions published with Chapman and Hall’s were exquisitely ornate, and included a salmon-colored gilt decorated cloth, gilt edges and gilt titles to the spine, as well as blind tooling to the boards and yellow endpapers. A Christmas Carol has four hand colored illustrations by John Leech, and four textual woodcuts by W.J. Linton. The other books include black and white illustrations, including engraved title pages or vignettes by John Leech, Richard Doyle, Clarkson Stanfield, Daniel Maclise, Edwin Landseer, W.J. Linton, and others.
Our Rare Book Sale Monitor has been recording a slow but steady climb in the pricing of books authored by Charles Dickens. In fact, the last two quarters as well as the current one have captured a steady increase in interest for Dickens’s works in general. This trend is expected to continue in years to come as the first editions of his most popular novels that include the Christmas stories, continually become even scarcer.
As the celebration of the Christmas season is upon us once again, it is the perfect time to reflect on the impact that this London writer has brought to this holiday and to our world in general. The father of ten children, who also strived for social reform, has given us his Christmas stories as a reminder that the true Christmas spirit can be reached only through our hearts.