The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits
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As uplifting as the tale of Scrooge itself, this is the story of how one writer and one book revived the signal holiday of the Western world.
Just before Christmas in 1843, a debt-ridden and dispirited Charles Dickens wrote a small book he hoped would keep his creditors at bay. His publisher turned it down, so Dickens used what little money he had to put out A Christmas Carol himself. He worried it might be the end of his career as a novelist.
The book immediately caused a sensation. And it breathed new life into a holiday that had fallen into disfavor, undermined by lingering Puritanism and the cold modernity of the Industrial Revolution. It was a harsh and dreary age, in desperate need of spiritual renewal, ready to embrace a book that ended with blessings for one and all.
With warmth, wit, and an infusion of Christmas cheer, Les Standiford whisks us back to Victorian England, its most beloved storyteller, and the birth of the Christmas we know best. The Man Who Invented Christmas is a rich and satisfying read for Scrooges and sentimentalists alike.
From the Hardcover edition.
Manchester area, their desperation, according to one labor historian, “cast a pall over the entire period and over all the working classes.”(Interestingly, the desperation of the times led to the emigration of one such unemployed Scottish hand-weaver named Carnegie to the United States, where his son Andrew would become the chief industrialist of all time.) The city to which Dickens had come was in many ways the apotheosis, then, of all that he abhorred. He had made a brief visit in 1838,
previously mentioned by Hall that they might indeed reduce Dickens’s draw by the fifty pounds stipulated in his contract for Chuzzlewit. “I am so irritated,” Dickens had told Forster when it happened, “so rubbed in the tenderest part of my eyelids with bay-salt, that I don’t think I can write.” Though Hall never acted on his suggestion that the clause might be enforced, the threat had festered in Dickens and prompted him to write to Forster that he dreamed of severing his ties with Chapman and
he had written to Forster, he received a letter from the former Miss Beadnell, who wanted to let him know that she had been following his career these many years, and was quite proud of what he had accomplished. She also told Dickens that she was married, of course, and that she was also “toothless, fat, old and ugly.” Such caveats seemed like a coquette’s protests to Dickens, however, and he persisted in his entreaties until Miss Beadnell, now Mrs. Winter, agreed to bring her husband (a sawmill
before. As he pondered just what to do with his time on stage, it occurred to Dickens that—it being December—he might as well read from A Christmas Carol. He had practiced such a thing on his friends plenty of times in the past, after all, and if he could bring a sophisticated group such as that to tears, why not take his act to provincial Birmingham? It proved to be an inspired decision. Dickens read three nights in Birmingham, and on the last evening more than 2,000 paid their sixpence to hear
junior law clerk describe a young man with a glowing pink complexion, “a fine forehead,” and “beautiful expressive eyes full of animation,” the American author Richard Henry Dana wrote to Bryant that the first sight of Dickens “may not wholly please you.” Others commented that although he stood five feet nine inches (well above average for a man of his time), he nonetheless came across as short and stout, with ears a bit too big, and unkempt hair that he fussed with a bit too much in public and