Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol

November 21, 2023 through January 7, 2024
Seaetd figure of Scrooge in white night gown and cap sitting in pink armchair next to a fireplace on the left with a table and lamp on the right.

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’s passage evokes the foggy darkness of Scrooge’s London, where “people ran about with flaring links, proffering their services to go before horses in carriages, and conduct them on their way.” Dickens’s carefully revised description juxtaposes imagery of cold discomfort and alluring warmth. A group of “ragged men and boys” huddled around an outdoor fire are “winking their eyes before the blaze in rapture” despite the intense cold. The “misanthropic ice” of an overflowing water plug (a type of fire hydrant) contrasts with “the brightness of the shops, where holly sprigs and berries crackled in the lamp-heat of the windows made pale faces ruddy as they passed.” The page concludes with closing time at the counting house, when Scrooge, ever the churl, asks Bob Cratchit, “You'll want all day tomorrow, I suppose?”

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.


Related programs