Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol as a morality tale. He hoped it would be a catalyst for social change in an era where the Industrial Revolution had brought great wealth to some . . . and poverty to many. To spread his message he did 127 public readings of an abbreviated version of the story both in Britain and overseas.In America, one wealthy industrialist who attended a reading on Christmas Eve in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1867, was so moved he closed his factory on Christmas Day and sent every employee a turkey.
The phase “Merry Christmas” comes from A Christmas Carol, along with the name “Scrooge” and exclamation “Bah! Humbug!”
The novella was written in six weeks and first published on December 19, 1843. As the result of a feud with his publishers Chapman and Hall over the earnings on his previous book, Martin Chuzzlewit, Dickens opted for a percentage of the profits and published the work at his own expense. However despite good sales and critical acclaim, high production costs and pirated copies meant profits were slim and a great disappointment to the author.
A Christmas Carol has never been out of print and at least 28 film versions have been made.
The story tells of miserable miser Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation after the visit of four spirits – his late business partner Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come.
The book was written in the early Victorian era when Britain was experiencing nostalgia for festive Christmas celebrations which had become a solemn and sober affair under Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans. The book had a huge influence and has been credited with restoring the holiday to one of festivity and generosity.