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About The Production (Continued)
A Timeline of Dickens' Life

February 7, 1812: Charles Dickens is born to John and Elizabeth Dickens.
1824: John Dickens is arrested for his debts and sent to Marshalsea prison. A 12-year-old Charles Dickens is forced to work at Warren's Blacking Factory pasting labels on shoe polish containers to provide for the family.
1833: Dickens publishes his first story, "A Dinner at Poplar Walk," in The Monthly Magazine.
1836: Dickens begins monthly installments of his first novel, The Pickwick Papers. The novel becomes a publishing phenomenon, going from selling 500 copies of the first installment to over 40,000 of the last one in 1847.
1837: Dickens' first child, Charles Culliford Boz Dickens, is born - the first of his 10 children. He begins publishing monthly installments of Oliver Twist. The book, beloved by factory workers and Queen Victoria alike, make Dickens one of the most popular writers of his time.
1840: Dickens begins publishing installments of The Old Curiosity Shop, which quickly becomes the bestselling novel of its time with over 100,000 readers per issue.
1841: Dickens publishes Barnaby Rudge, which, while still popular, marks a notable decline in readership, dropping to about 30,000 by its last installments.
1842: Dickens travels to America with his wife on a reading tour. His latest novel, Martin Chuzzlewit, sees disappointing sales numbers.
October 5, 1843: During an evening walk after a fundraiser for the Manchester Athenaeum, Dickens begins to hatch the idea for a new novel, one that will touch on the ill effects of industrialization and the fate of children in such a world.
October to December 1843: Dickens works furiously on A Christmas Carol. He tells a friend that he composes much of it walking "the black streets of London… many a night when all the sober folks had gone to bed."
November 1843: He hires John Leech to create the illustrations for his book and works with him to realize his vision of the story.
December 17, 1843: The final book has gone to the printer. Two days later, Dickens has 6,000 copies ready for bookstores.
December 19, 1843: In his review of A Christmas Carol, Charles Mackay relishes the book's sense of joy, writing, "If such spirits could be multiplied, as the copies of this little book we doubt not will be… what a happy Christmas indeed should we yet have this 1843!"
December 24, 1843: The first printing of 6,000 volumes sells out.
January 3, 1844: The book goes into a second and third printing.
 January 24, 1844: The New York publishers Harper and Brothers have the first authorized U.S. edition of A Christmas Carol in stores -- many unauthorized versions follow.
February 5, 1844: An authorized stage production of "A Christmas Carol" opens. Within weeks there are seven more unauthorized plays based on the novel in theaters throughout London.
 1849: Dickens publishes David Copperfield.
1851: John Dickens, Charles Dickens' father, dies.
1852: Dickens publishes Bleak House.
1854: Dickens begins giving a series of very popular public readings of A Christmas Carol.
1859: Dickens publishes A Tale of Two Cities. 1861: Dickens publishes Great Expectations.
1870: Dickens begins publishing his last (and unfinished) novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
June 9, 1870: Charles Dickens dies from a stroke.

Christmas Then and Now

As explored in the film, prior to Dickens writing A Christmas Carol the Christmas holiday was not celebrated quite the way it is today. Here are some of the most famous symbols of Christmas and the events that led to their significance in the modern holiday celebration.

In May 1843, Sir Henry Cole commissioned illustrator John Callcott Horsley to create a card with the message "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You" on one side and an illustration of acts of charity on the other. While previous cards had pictures of flowers or other decorative elements, Cole's card explicitly promoted Christmas scenes and spirit. By the 1880s, scenes from A Christmas Carol often served to illustrate Christmas cards.

 Christmas carols originate from as far back as the 13th century, and the act of caroling, that being groups of public singers called "waits," stretches back just as far, but caroling had a renaissance in the 19th century. William Sandys' 1833 text Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern, first published songs like "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." It also spurred songwriters to come up with new Christmas songs. "O Little Town of Bethlehem," "Deck the Halls," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," and "We Three Kings," were all written in the latter half of the 19th century.

While Christmas trees started appearing in England in the 18th century, many credit the German-born Prince Albert for making it part of the English consciousness in 1840, three years before the publication of A Christmas Carol. In December 1844, the craze had caught on so that one could buy a copy of The Christmas Tree, an illustrated guide on how to decorate the holiday standard. By 1848, a color engraving of the royal family encircling a decorated Christmas tree made it a national tradition.

Scrooge calling out, "Do you know whether they've sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there?" at the end of A Christmas Carol was an anomaly for a holiday that preferred to serve goose. But as Les Standiford points out in The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits, "By 1868 the authoritative voice of Isabella Beeton, in Mrs. Beeton's Every Day Cookery and Housekeeping Book, was assuring readers, 'A noble dish is a turkey, roast or boiled.'"

Dickens wrote about mistletoe in A Christmas Carol and also included the famous holiday plant in his 1837 novel, The Pickwick Papers. However, it was an essay, "Christmas Eve," in American writer Washington Irving's 1819, Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., that publically made the connection between hanging the white berries and stealing kisses. Celebrating Dickens Today

For the first time in history, from November 3, 2017 through January 14, 2018, the Morgan Library & Museum is hosting Charles Dickens and the Spirit of Christmas, an exhibition that will display the original manuscript of A Christmas Carol along with the manuscripts of four other popular Christmas books Dickens penned following its release. These novellas, The Chimes (1844), The Cricket on the Hearth (1845), The Battle of Life (1846), and The Haunted Man (1848), will be on display alongside the author's own writing desk.

In the course of the exhibit, The Morgan will explore A Christmas Carol's monumental impact on Dickens' career, on society and how we celebrate the holiday season. After its release, the novel's immense popularity prompted the author to resume reading tours, which led to a circuit throughout the United States. The Morgan's exhibition marks the 150th anniversary of his famous travels around the nation.

For further information on Charles Dickens and the Spirit of Christmas, please visit A special preview screening of The Man Who Invented Christmas will take place as part of their program on Tuesday, November 14. Tickets are available at

For more information on Dickens and his legacy, please visit the Charles Dickens Museum website. The museum houses many of the author's notable artifacts, first editions and manuscripts and is located at the home where he wrote Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers, and Nicholas Nickelby, which propelled him toward international stardom and acclaim.


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