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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: 

58

seeing that he looked a little—"just a little down, you know," said Bob—enquired what had happened to distress him. "On which," said Bob; "for he is the pleasan-test-spoken gentleman you ever heard, I told him. "I am heartily sorry for it, Mr. Cratchit' he said, "and heartily sorry for your good wife.' By the bye, how he ever knew that, I don't know!"

"Knew what, my dear."

"Why, that you were a good wife," replied Bob.

"Everybody knows that!" said Peter.

"Very well observed my boy!" cried Bob. "I hope they do.—"Heartily sorry,' he said, "for your good wife. If I can be of service to you in any way,' he said, giving me his card, "that's where I live. Pray come to me.' Now it wasn't," cried Bob, "for the sake of anything he might be able to do for us, so much as for his kind way, that this was quite delightful. It really seemed as if he had known our Tiny Tim, and felt with us!"

"I'm sure he's a good soul!" said Mrs. Cratchit.

"You would be surer of it, my dear," returned Bob, "if you saw and spoke to him. I shouldn't be at all surprised; mark what I say; if he got Peter a better situation."

"Only hear that, Peter!" said Mrs. Cratchit.

"And then," cried one of the girls, "Peter will be keeping company with some one, and setting up for himself."

"Get along with you!" retorted Peter, grinning.

"It's just as likely as not," said Bob, "one of these days; though there's plenty of time for that, my dear. But however and whenever we part from one another, I am sure we shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim—shall we—or this first parting that there was among us."

"Never, father!" cried they all.

"And I know," said Bob, "I know, my dears, that when we recollect how patient and how mild he was; although he was a little, little child, we shall not quarrel easily among ourselves, and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it."

"No, never father!" they all cried again.

"I am very happy," said little Bob, "I am very happy."

Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kissed him, the two young Cratchits kissed him, and Peter and himself shook hands. Spirit of Tiny Tim, thy childish essence was from God!

"Spectre!" said Scrooge, "Something informs me that our parting-moment is at hand. I know it, but I know not how. Tell me what man that was, whom we saw lying dead!"

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come conveyed him, as before (though at a different time, he thought; indeed, there seemed no order in these latter visions, save that they were in the Future) into the resorts of business men, but shewed him not himself. Indeed the Spirit did not stay for anything, but went straight on as to

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Recording of A Christmas Carol courtesy of Naxos AudioBooks