Originally entitled ‘A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas’, this story of a ghostly appearance to Ebenezer Scrooge to warn him to change his miserly ways, was published on 19th December 1843. Dickens had started the work in October of that year and was a reflection in part of his own childhood. His father John was arrested for his failure to pay his debts and imprisoned when Charles was 12. The rest of the family moved into the prison to be with their father but Charles was forced to take lodgings and leave school. Dickens found employment in a factory that made shoe polish and continued to work there even after his fathers release from prison.
Despite his fathers debt problem the Dickens family was from a middle class background (his father was a clerk in the pay office of the Navy) and being thrust into poverty amongst the poor of London had a marked effect on Charles and his future writings. During this time the psychological effects affected him so badly that it induced fits in young Charles. He felt moved to try and help the poor by publicizing their plight and decided to write a political pamphlet in May 1843 entitled ‘An Appeal to the People of England, on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child’. He decided against publication until later that year and by then it had expanded to become A Christmas Carol.
Our thanks to Sarah Price of St Hilary’s Miniature Church for the image above.