Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol in December 1843. He had been at a fundraising dinner in Manchester, a city experiencing the effects of the Industrial Revolution. Dickens thought he knew about poverty, living in London but nothing prepared him for the misery he witnessed in Manchester. He returned to London determined to write a Christmas novella which would put forward the poor man’s plight. His publishers didn’t agree and so Dickens took the costs of publishing upon himself. Printing 6,000 copies in the first run, the book sold out within five days.
The characters of Tiny Tim, the Cratchits, Scrooge and the ghost of Jacob Marley bring home the true meaning of Christmas. Marley teaches us to cherish those about us before it is too late, and the lessons learned by Scrooge are there for us all, not least when he is confronted with his own headstone. Scrooge’s transformation is complete and we celebrate with him that moment when he realizes “It’s Christmas Day! I haven’t missed it. The spirits have done it all in one night.” His relief is palpable, and we too find ourselves looking inwardly and realising that Dickens’s message in A Christmas Carol is everlasting.
Written by the Hon. Secretary for the Broadstairs Dickens Fellowship, Christine Ewer