Perhaps one of the best loved Christmas stories of all time, A Christmas Carol, was written by Charles Dickens when he was 31.
Dickens drew on his experiences as a child to depict the poor nature of those in need in London during the 1830’s and 40’s. Charles Dickens’ father was imprisoned when Charles was only 12, forcing the young boy to take refuge with neighbors and pawn all his belongings as well as seeking employment at a factory.
After three months his father was released, but Charles was forced to continue working at the factory. Scholars believe that it was his disjointed relationship with his father that led to the fundamental change in Scrooge’s character at the end of the story.
He began writing the story in October of 1843 and a little over a month later was finished in time to be published for Christmas. This is even more impressive when you note that Dickens often did not work after 2:00 in the afternoon. The rest of his day spent walking around London, sometimes 20 miles per day. A Christmas Carol went on sale on December 19th, 1843. It sold out in three days.
Charles Dickens was one of the first authors to give public readings, A Christmas Carol being his first public reading. Dickens eventually took his public reading up a notch by not simply reading, but performing A Christmas Carol in front of an audience.
A couple of months after A Christmas Carol was released a plagiarized version of the story called A Christmas Ghost Story was on sale for only a penny per copy. A lawsuit was filed by Dickens which eventually led to their bankruptcy.
Each year the manuscript is put on display at the Morgan Library and Museum on New York. In its 68 pages you can see Dickens’ notes and revisions to the story he wrote with a goose quill. If you’re lucky enough to catch it there you may see it opened to the page where the name “Little Fred” is crossed out and replaced with “Tiny Tim.” (Good call Charles Dickens).