Friday, December 24, 2010
A Small Success Story
On a cold and drizzly winter day in December, a small novella, A Christmas Carol in Prose: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, debuted in England. The book, known far and wide now by the name, A Christmas Carol, was to become a huge best-seller for Charles Dickens.
At the time of its writing, however, things were bleak for the young writer. His last book, Martin Chuzzlewit, was a commercial failure. Dickens, broke and without a publisher, cast about for a new story. Since Martin Chuzzlewit was a cynical story, he decided his next book should be the opposite. In October of 1843 he began the story of cold-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge, a man who is shown the true meaning of the Christmas spirit.
Dickens scrambled to complete the story before Christmas. Since he had lost his publisher, he published the book himself, giving it a merry red cover and gilt-edged pages. The novella sold for five shillings, making it affordable for nearly everyone and nearly everyone, it seemed, bought a copy. It was released on December 19, and was a sell-out within the first few days, selling all six-thousand copies. It went into a second, and a third, printing that season.
A Christmas Carol is a holiday tradition these days. It has spawned plays, movies and television dramas. The very name “Scrooge” is synonymous with penny-pinching miserly behavior. Did Dickens ever dream his story would still be captivating readers one-hundred and sixty-seven years after he wrote it? I think if the Ghost of Christmas Present were to visit him and show him where his little novella has gone, he’d be astounded.
Happy Holidays from all of us at All The World’s Our Page. May the Christmas spirit be with you all year long.