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.
He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. Clash, clang, hammer, ding, dong, bell; bell, dong, ding, hammer, clang, clash! Oh glorious, glorious!
Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist. Clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold—cold, piping for the blood to dance to—golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells—oh glorious, glorious!
"What's to day?" cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.
"EH?" returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.
"What's to day, my fine fellow!" said Scrooge.
"Today!" replied the boy. "Why, CHRISTMAS DAY'"
"It's Christmas Day!" said Scrooge to himself. "I haven't missed it. The Spirits, have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can. Hallo my fine fellow!"
"Hallo!" returned the boy.
"Do you know the Poulterer's in the next street but one, at the corner?" Scrooge inquired.
"I should hope I did," replied the lad.
"An intelligent boy!" said Scrooge. "A remarkable boy! Do you know whether they've sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there; not the little prize turkey, the big one?"
"What, the one as big as me!" returned the boy.
"What a delightful boy!" said Scrooge. "It's a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck!"
"It's hanging there now," replied the boy.
"Is it?" said Scrooge. "Go and buy it."
"Walk-ER!" exclaimed the boy.
"No, no," said Scrooge. "I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell 'em to bring it here, that I may give 'em the direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and I'll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than five minutes, and I'll give you half a crown!"
The boy was off like a shot. He must have had a steady hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast.
"I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's!" whispered Scrooge, rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. "He shan't know who sends it. It's twice the size of Tiny Tim. Joe Miller never made such a joke as sending it to Bob's will be!"
Recording of A Christmas Carol courtesy of Naxos AudioBooks