A Christmas Carol

- the classic winter tale by Charles Dickens
Pencil drawings and text by Miff Crommelin

In the early part of Queen Victoria's reign, Christmas as we now know it became fashionable. The year 1843 saw the publication of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and also the first commercially available Christmas card.

Charles Dickens was 31 years old and in dire financial straits when A Christmas Carol in Prose was first published. The lavish first edition, complete with color plates, was an immediate success but the high cost of production did little to help resolve his financial difficulties.

Encouraged by the acclaim of A Christmas Carol, Dickens wrote four more lesser-known Christmas novels between 1844 and 1848. All five were published together as the Christmas Books in 1852. Their titles were: A Christmas Carol; The Chimes; The Cricket on the Hearth; The Battle of Life; The Haunted Man.

Besides his five Christmas books, Dickens wrote numerous Christmas short stories - a new one appearing each year in his twopenny weekly Household Words which he launched in 1856 and its successor, All the Year Round. A collection of these was first published in 1871 as the Christmas Stories.

The 'crime' of Poverty, Ignorance and Want was the theme of much of Dickens' early writing - an injustice he felt keenly since his family experienced hardship personally. Charles' father, mother and younger siblings spent time in a debtor's prison while he earned six shillings a week pasting labels on pots of boot blacking in a rat-infested warehouse.

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was born in 1812 and died at age 58. The strain of popular readings which he instituted in 1858 plus a strenuous tour of America in 1867-8 taxed his health. He suffered a stroke on 8 June 1870 and died the next day.
Scrooge Beholds An Amazing Sight
Ebenezer Scrooge has just returned home from work on Christmas Eve when, with eyes wide in amazement, he finds his door knocker transformed into the glowing image of his former business partner, Jacob Marley.
A Most Unusual Door Knocker
Jacob Marley, who died on Christmas Eve seven years ago today, is about to start Scrooge on a journey of self-examination and repentance that leads to his conversion on Christmas Day.
Jacob Marley's Lament
"Business! Mankind was my business!" laments the ghost of Jacob Marley who formerly was Scrooge's partner in business. Dragging a ponderous chain of safes, keys, locks and cash boxes which he forged in life, Jacob Marley is destined to roam the earth for eternity wishing he could have used his fortune to alleviate some of the miseries of society rather than amassing it all for himself.
Money Isn't Everything
Having lived a life of avarice where only the 'bottom line' counted for anything, the ghost of Jacob Marley now passionately seeks to point Ebenezer Scrooge toward a more wholesome and benevolent path.
Bob Cratchit's Christmas Dinner
Two ghostly observers, Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present, watch the Cratchit family enjoy their humble Christmas dinner. Grudgingly the family even toasts the health of Ebenezer Scrooge - Bob Cratchit's miserly employer. Rich in love but poor in substance, the Cratchits know the true Spirit of Christmas. Each year they eagerly await this festive season and make it merry despite their difficult circumstances.
The True Spirit of Christmas
As Tiny Tim observed, "God Bless Us, Everyone!"
Christmas Day: A New Day and a New Scrooge
Having spent Christmas Eve in the company of three Spirits, Ebenezer Scrooge finds himself re-born - a man now full of compassion who sees the world around him as though for the first time. Throwing open the window, he is struck by the crisp cold air of Christmas morning and delights in the glorious beauty outside.
The Turkey As Big As Me?
Hailing a street urchin below, Scrooge inquires about a large turkey at a nearby shop hoping to surprise his beleaguered clerk, Bob Cratchit, with a long-overdue gift of appreciation.
Ebenezer Scrooge Seeks Forgiveness
Ebenezer Scrooge nervously approached the salon where his nephew, Fred, was entertaining guests on Christmas Day. Would Ebenezer find acceptance and forgiveness amongst his kinfolk or would he be rejected for the pain he had caused Fred's wife by disapproving of their marriage? With great sorrow he asks if she can forgive him for being a "pig-headed old fool, with no eyes to see with, and no ears to hear with." Her radiant welcoming smile says it all.
Ebenezer Scrooge Makes Merry
What happiness and celebration follows the unexpected appearance of Ebenezer Scrooge at his nephew's party on Christmas Day! All is forgiven as Fred's charming young wife dances with Scrooge - true merriment he hadn't experienced since old Fezziwig's parties many Christmases ago.
Ebenezer Scrooge Has Come to His Senses
When Bob Cratchit arrives late for work on the day after Christmas, his boss, Ebenezer Scrooge, gleefully pretends to be the same ogre that Bob knew on Christmas Eve. Unable to contain himself any longer, Scrooge suddenly breaks into laughter and reveals his new compassionate nature.
Bob Cratchit Beholds An Amazing Sight
"I haven't taken leave of my senses, Bob - I've come to them!" Scrooge confesses. As Bob Cratchit stares in disbelief, it dawns upon him that something very special has occurred this Christmas. Ebenezer Scrooge has joined the human race!

Merry Christmas...
God Bless Us, Everyone!