Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol

November 1, 2016 through January 8, 2017

Every holiday season, the Morgan displays Charles Dickens's original manuscript of A Christmas Carol in Pierpont Morgan's historic 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 morocco as a gift for his solicitor, Thomas Mitton. The manuscript then passed through several owners before Pierpont Morgan acquired it in the 1890s.

This year the manuscript of A Christmas Carol is open to the powerfully dramatic ending of Stave I. As Scrooge looks out of his bedroom window at the end of his terrifying encounter with the ghost of Jacob Marley he is aware of “incoherent sounds of lamentation and regret.” Scrooge, “desperate in his curiosity,” witnesses a macabre scene—one of the most chilling in the entire ghost story—as Marley’s ghost drifts “out upon the bleak, dark night,” and the air is “filled with phantoms.” Scrooge personally recognizes some of the ghosts that he observes; they all “wore chains like Marley’s Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free.” By implicating individuals and governments alike, Dickens amplifies his condemnation of those who failed to ameliorate human wretchedness when they had an opportunity to do so, and have now “lost the power for ever.” Dickens brings the curtain down on the first chapter of his book with a harrowing vision of purgatorial suffering.

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 Morgan curator Declan Kiely.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870), A Christmas Carol, London: Chapman & Hall, 1843. Illustration by John Leech depicting Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball. The Morgan Library & Museum.