In October of 1843, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol as a social commentary on the treatment of the poor, especially poor children, in industrialized England. It took him only six weeks to put the story on paper! Because his publishers, Chapman and Hall, were unwilling to risk the investment of publishing another novel after his Martin Chuzzlewit flop, Dickens paid for the production and printing of the novella out of his own pocket. The 6,000 published copies sold out in a week and 15,000 total copies were sold by the end of the year. A Christmas Carol has never been out of print since that time.
I read A Christmas Carol almost every year and always watch at least one movie version as part of my Christmas traditions. For today, I’m sharing some resources and opinions related to this iconic story. If you’re already a fan of this iconic story, I hope this post brings you some joy. If you aren’t very familiar with it, I hope you’ll discover something that makes you curious to dip your toes into one of the greatest Christmas tales of all time (outside of The Christmas Story, which is why we celebrate in the first place).
To set the stage, Clickview offers an informative background video on Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol. It’s brief (about 7 minutes) and adds dimension to the story, whether you are an aficionado or a beginner.
Experiencing the Story
There are many ways to experience A Christmas Carol. As an avid reader, I am always going to recommend reading the book first. It’s a small time investment; most books are under 120 pages. If you aren’t a reader, listening to an audiobook is another possibility. Again, the time investment is small, about 3.5 to 4 hours. Audible has versions narrated by some powerhouse actors including Tim Curry, Hugh Grant, Patrick Stewart, Orson Welles and Lionel Barrymore, and Lawrence Olivier. I also found a Audible Original version with a full cast including Sir Derek Jacobi and Brendan Coyle.
The third, and probably most accessible, way to experience A Christmas Carol is to watch a movie version. At my house, we like the whimsey of A Muppet Christmas Carol and the darkness of A Christmas Carol starring George C. Scott. There are so many versions to choose from. To find your own favorite(s,) check out the lists below:
- The Best Versions of a Christmas Carol on Film, TV and Video!
- A Christmas Carol: The 10 Best Versions Ever Made
- ‘A Christmas Carol’ Adaptations Ranked
If you are already a fan of A Christmas Carol and want to try something new but related, here are a few suggestions:
Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva. This as a fictionalized account of the writing of a Christmas Carol. Very little is tied to historical facts but the story is well told with an atmosphere similar to A Christmas Carol. I enjoyed it.
Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett. Jacob Marley is Scrooge’s former business partner and the ghost that warns Scrooge of his likely doom and chance for redemption through the three Christmas spirits. This is his story. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s Goodreads rating is 4.13 stars.
The Man Who Invented Christmas. Obviously, this film focuses on the why and how behind Dickens’ masterpiece. I haven’t seen this movie yet but focuses on a Christmas Carol from a fresh perspective and stars Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens so it can’t be too bad.
A Christmas Carol is a beloved story that’s been told and retold for almost two centuries. Scrooge’s powerful redemption experience juxtaposed against the atmospheric backdrop of a Victorian Christmas setting has impacted generations of people. I wonder what Charles Dickens would say about it’s success?
I hope you discover something new to love about A Christmas Carol and find this quote to be true of yourself as it was of Ebenezer Scrooge:
“And it was said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, every one!”