Friday, December 20, 2013

"Merry Christmas, Everyone"

DAILYHISTORY Dec. 19, 2013
"Merry Christmas, Everyone"
A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens was angry. He was incensed at his father, who was sent to debtors' prison, forcing young Charles to pawn his belongings, drop out of school and work in a shoeshine factory. He was also angered by the conditions in which England's poorest children lived and worked.

He was going to publish a political pamphlet called An Appeal to the People of England, on Behalf of the Poor Man's Child, with the goal of drawing workers and employers together to address the plight of poor children. Instead, Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol. He figured an endearing Christmas story with a plot built around the struggles of the poor would have broader appeal.

What he did not predict was that his story of Scrooge (who embodied the conflicting feelings Dickens had about his father), Tiny Tim (England's poor children) and spiritual redemption would become arguably the most popular Christmas tale ever.

A Christmas Carol, which was written in just six weeks and published on this day in 1843, was greeted with wide critical acclaim. Many have credited it with reviving the celebration of Christmas and introducing the phrase "Merry Christmas" into our vernacular. The book's first run (6,000 copies) sold out before Christmas Eve, and by the following May seven editions sold out. However, it did not produce a windfall for Dickens, who paid the original production costs due to a dispute with his publisher.

Today, A Christmas Carol, which has been adapted in numerous plays, operas, ballets and films, is in its 24th edition and by some predictions has sold five billion copies.

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