Prather’s Pick: The story behind a Christmas classic
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without “A Christmas Carol,” written in the 1800s by Charles Dickens. “The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol ’Rescued His Career And Revived Our Holiday Spirits” was written by Les Standiford and published by Broadway Paperbacks (an imprint of Crown Publishing), 2008.
In “Nativity,” the first chapter of the book, the reader learns that John Dickens, although employed, did not make enough money and ended up in debt. As was the custom in London, in 1824, the sheriff’s men took John to a “sponging house” where he was given a few days to find a way to pay his debt. He did not so was imprisoned in Marshalsea.
John Dickens had seven children. Charles, then twelve, went to work to help his family. Each day for ten hours, Charles filled small pots with shoe blacking, tied the pots with paper, and pasted a printed label on each of them. Charles lost his childhood, but he did learn about the lifestyles of the ordinary people who lived in London and poverty, ignorance, the need for goodwill, and family unity.
All of these things had a profound influence on his writings.
Charles Dickens’s writing career began at age twenty-two when he began writing for the “Morning Chronicle, “ including stories about ordinary London life. Eventually he came to be considered one of the most accomplished writers of the English language and published twenty novels in his lifetime, including “Oliver Twist,” “David Copperfield,” and “Great Expectations.”
The best-known and beloved of all Dickens’s works is “A Christmas Carol.” It is short novel of about 30,000 words. When Dickens sat down to write “A Christmas Carol” he was faced with bankruptcy and he was “dispirited.” It was a cold and harsh world. Dickens worked out the novel’s plot in his head. He had only six weeks to write the novel but also to edit, illustrate, typeset, print, bound, advertise, and distribute to the book shops—all before December 25th. But the novel was an immediate success and has become a classic.
This week’s book covers Dickens’s career and his production of “A Christmas Carol.” It is interesting reading, indeed! A selected bibliography is included in the book.
“The Man Who Invented Christmas” costs $14.99 in paperback.