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Charles Dickens
(1812–1870)

Autograph manuscript signed, December 1843

Purchased by Pierpont Morgan before 1900

MA 97
Item description: 

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.

Transcription: 

30

creature, quite as graceful and as full of promise, might have called him father, and been a spring-time in the haggard winter of his life, his sight grew very dim indeed.

"Belle," said the husband, turning to his wife with a smile. "I saw an old friend of yours this afternoon."

"Who was it?"

"Guess!"

"How can I? Tut, don't I know," she added in the same breath, laughing as he laughed. "Mr. Scrooge."

"Mr. Scrooge it was. I passed his office window; and as it wasn't shut up, and he had a candle inside, I could scarcely help seeing him. His partner lies upon the point of Death, I hear; and there he sat alone. Quite alone in the world, I do believe."

"Spirit!" said Scrooge, in a broken voice, "remove me from this place."

"I told you these were shadows of the things that have been," said the Ghost.

"That they are what they are, do not blame me!"

"Remove me!" Scrooge exclaimed. "I cannot bear it!"

He turned upon the Ghost, and seeing that it looked upon him with a face, in which, in some strange way there were fragments of all the faces it had shown him, wrestled with it.

"Leave me! Take me back. Haunt me no longer!"

In the struggle; if that can be called a struggle in which the Ghost with no visible resistance on its own part was undisturbed by any effort of its adversary; Scrooge observed that its light was burning high and bright: and dimly connecting that with its influence over him, he seized the extinguisher-cap, and by a sudden action pressed it down upon its head.

The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the extinguisher covered its whole form; but though Scrooge pressed it down with all his force, he could not hide the light which streamed from under it, in one unbroken flood upon the ground.

He was conscious of being exhausted, and overcome by an irresistible drowsi-ness; and, further, of being in his own bedroom. He gave the cap a parting squeeze in which his hand relaxed; and had barely time to reel to bed, before he sank into a heavy sleep.

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Recording of A Christmas Carol courtesy of Naxos AudioBooks