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1843: "A Christmas Carol" Is Published

 

On December 19, 1843, Charles Dickens published his classic holiday story A Christmas Carol, but had he stuck to his original idea, our Yuletide celebrations may have been very different. In the spring of that year, Dickens read a government report on child labor and was horrified by what he learned about the conditions of little girls who sew clothes in factories. As a former child laborer, this issue was near and dear to his heart, so he decided to write an informative pamphlet on the matter.

However, by October, he had decided that a better way was to take a fictional story. Dickens was a hardworking man, and these were the days when the publishing machine was too thin and didn't require months-long social media campaigns, so his manuscript was ready for print two months later, but he hit a roadblock with his publishers. shape. Dickens was determined to publish the story as a stand-alone book, but because of the low sales of previous efforts, publishers wanted to run it as part of a collection or a magazine story. They arrived at a strange arrangement: Dickens agreed to fund the publication of his story and reap the profits, while the publishers earned a set figure for the number of copies sold, along with printing costs. The story was, of course, a runaway hit, selling out on Christmas Eve, but its printing costs were so high that Dickens didn't really see much profit.


If Dickens hoped to awaken the public to the plight of the poor, he certainly succeeded. In 1843 a Christmas carol was considered radical, revolutionizing the way people thought about how employers should treat their employees. Britain's growth in charities a year after its publication has been attributed to the story, and it inspired 1% of the entire Western world to give back to its employees and those in need in the years to come. It also popularized many Christmas traditions that are still celebrated today, from wishing others a "Merry Christmas" to urban celebrations that were once considered pastoral holidays.

Today, A Christmas Carol is as sweet as it was when it was first published. It has been translated into many different languages, never went out of print, and has become a favorite for Christmastime stage shows and movie nights. Its many film adaptations have featured everything from the Muppets to the kings of comedy to a famous descendant of John Elwes, who inspired Dickens to create the character of Ebenezer Scrooge. You may best know him as Dread Pirate Roberts.

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