Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol

November 24, 2021 through January 9, 2022

Every holiday season, the Morgan displays Charles Dickens’s original manuscript of A Christmas Carol in J. Pierpont Morgan's Library. Dickens wrote his iconic tale in a six-week flurry of activity beginning in October 1843 and ending in time for Christmas publication. He had the manuscript bound in red goatskin leather as a gift for his solicitor, Thomas Mitton. The manuscript then passed through several owners before Pierpont Morgan acquired it in the 1890s.

Beginning a few years ago, the Morgan started advancing the Christmas Carol manuscript by one page each season. This year the manuscript is open to the finale of Scrooge's quarrel with his nephew over the value of Christmas. Through his increasingly vexed refrain of "Good Afternoon!", Scrooge rebuffs his nephew's invitation to share a holiday meal before carping at the seasonal cheer of Bob Cratchit, "who, cold as he was, was warmer than Scrooge." The line about Cratchit's wages ("fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family") references Dickens's own salary as a sixteen-year-old solicitor's clerk, thereby emphasizing the dramatic injustice of Cratchit's employment. The page concludes with Scrooge's first mention of his former business partner Jacob Marley, who "died seven years ago, this very night."

Explore Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol online and view other related highlights from the collection.

Share in the festivities with your own copy of A Christmas Carol available from the Morgan Shop. This is the first-ever trade edition of Charles Dickens's "own and only" manuscript of his classic and beloved story. It contains a facsimile of the original manuscript of A Christmas Carol, published in full-color, with a foreword by Colm Tóibín and introduction by Declan Kiely.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870), A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, illustration by John Leech, London: Chapman & Hall, 1843. Bequest of Gordon N. Ray, 1987. PML 132030.