Autograph manuscript signed, December 1843
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan before 1900
Compelled by personal financial difficulties, Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in only six weeks, during a period of intense creativity in fall 1843. The original manuscript of A Christmas Carol reveals Dickens's method of composition, allowing us to see the author at work. The pace of writing and revision, apparently contiguous, is urgent, rapid, and boldly confident. Deleted text is struck out with a cursive and continuous looping movement of the pen and replaced with more active verbs—to achieve greater vividness or immediacy of effect— and fewer words for concision. This heavily revised sixty-six-page draft—the only manuscript of the story—was sent to the printer in order for the book to be published on 19 December, just in time for the Christmas market.
"One child," Scrooge returned.
"True," said the Ghost. "Your nephew!"
Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind; and answered, briefly, "Yes."
Although they had but that moment left the school behind them, they were now in the busy thoroughfares of a city, where shadowy passengers passed and repassed in one unbroken throng; where shadowy carts and coaches battled for the way, and all the strife and tumult of a real city were. It was made plain enough by the dressing of the shops, that here too it was Christmas time again; but it was evening, and the streets were lighted up.
The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and asked Scrooge if he knew it.
"Know it!" said Scrooge. "Was I apprenticed here!"
They went in. At sight of an old gentleman in a Welch wig, sitting behind such a high desk, that if he had been two inches taller he must have knocked his head against the ceiling, Scrooge cried in great excitement:
"Why, its old Fezziwig! Bless his heart, it's Fezziwig alive again!"
Old Fezziwig laid down his pen, and looked up at the clock, which pointed to the hour of seven. He rubbed his hands; adjusted his capacious waistcoat; laughed all over himself, from his shoes to his organ of benevolence; and called out in a comfortable, oily, rich, fat, jovial voice:
"Yo ho, there! Ebenezcr! Dick!"
Scrooge's former self, now grown a young man, came briskly in, accompanied by his fellow 'prentice.
"Dick Wilkins, to be sure! "said Scrooge to the Ghost. "Lord bless me yes. There he is. Ah! He was very much attached to me, was Dick. Poor Dick! Dear, dear!"
"Yo ho, my boys!" said Fezziwig. "No more work tonight. Christmas Eve, Dick. Christmas, Ebenezer! Let's have the shutters up," cried old Fezziwig, with a sharp clap of his hands, "before a man can say Jack Robinson!"
You wouldn't believe how those two fellows went at it! They charged into the street with the shutters—one two three—had 'em up in their places—four five six—pinned 'em and barred 'em—seven, eight, nine—and came back before you could have got to twelve, panting like racehorses.
"Hilli-ho!" cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from the high desk, with wonderful agility. "Clear away, my lads, and let's have lots of room here! Hilli-ho, Dick! Chirrup, Ebenezer!"
Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared away, or couldn't have cleared away, with old Fezziwig looking on. It was
Recording of A Christmas Carol courtesy of Naxos AudioBooks