Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol

December 3, 2019 through January 5, 2020

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 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 Dickens’s evocative description of a gloomy, fog-bound afternoon in London: “it was quite dark already—it had not been light all day.” This oppressive atmosphere surrounds the counting house of Ebenezer Scrooge, one of literature’s great villain-heroes, who speaks his unforgettable “Bah! Humbug” line for the first time in this scene. We also catch a glimpse of Scrooge’s pitiable clerk Bob Cratchit, who, being limited to a fire made from a single coal, “put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle.” The sketch of Cratchit’s miserable work with Scrooge is modeled in part on Dickens’s own experience as a solicitor’s clerk.

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.

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