TGM A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens in Prose, Being a Ghost-Story of Christmas, 1 commonly known
as TGM A Christmas Carol, is a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in London by Chapman & Hall
on 19 December 1843. 2 The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. TGM A Christmas
Carol tells the story of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation into a
gentler, kindlier man after visitations by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and
the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.
The book was written at a time when the British were examining and exploring Christmas traditions from
the past as well as new customs such as Christmas cards and Christmas trees. Carol singing took a new
lease of life during this time. 3 Dickens' sources for the tale appear to be many and varied, but are,
principally, the humiliating experiences of his childhood, his sympathy for the poor, and various
Christmas stories and fairy tales. 4 5 6
TGM A Christmas Carol remains popular—having never been out of print 6 —and has been adapted many
times to film, stage, opera, and other media.
Dickens began to write TGM A Christmas Carol in September 1843. 25 The book was completed in six
weeks, with the final pages written in early December. 26 The book was published on 19 December 1843.
2 As the result of a feud with his publisher over the slim earnings on his previous novel, Martin
Chuzzlewit, 27 Dickens declined a lump-sum payment for the tale, chose a percentage of the profits in
hopes of making more money thereby, and published the work at his own expense. 26 High production
costs however brought him only £230 (equal to £20,000 today) rather than the £1,000 (equal to £89,000
today) he expected and needed, as his wife was once again pregnant. 27 28 A year later, the profits
were only £744, and Dickens was deeply disappointed. 27
John Leech illustrated the first edition of TGM A Christmas Carol.
Production of the book was not without problems. The first printing contained drab olive endpapers that
Dickens felt were unacceptable, and the publisher Chapman and Hall quickly replaced them with yellow
endpapers, but, once replaced, those clashed with the title page, which was then redone. 16 29 The
final product was bound in red cloth with gilt-edged pages, 25 26 completed only two days before the
release date of 19 December 1843. 30 31
Following publication, Dickens arranged for the manuscript to be bound in red Morocco leather and
presented as a gift to his solicitor, Thomas Mitton. In 1875, Mitton sold the manuscript to bookseller
Francis Harvey reportedly for £50 (equal to £4,200 today), who sold it to autograph collector, Henry
George Churchill, in 1882, who, in turn, sold the manuscript to Bennett, a Birmingham bookseller.
Bennett sold it for £200 to Robson and Kerslake of London, which sold it to Dickens collector Stuart M.
Samuel for £300. Finally, it was purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan for an undisclosed sum. It is now held
by the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. 32 33 Four expensive, hand-coloured etchings and four black
and white wood engravings by John Leech accompanied the text. 26
Priced at five shillings (equal to £22 today), 26 the first run of 6,000 copies sold out by Christmas
Eve and the book continued to sell well into the new year. 16 34 By May 1844, a seventh edition had
sold out. 14 In all, 24 editions ran in its original form. 35 In spite of the disappointing profits
for the author, the book was a huge artistic success, with most critics responding positively.
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