This year’s seasonal opportunity is here once again to see the original manuscript of one of the greatest of all shorter literary works, the story that rescued and re-established Christmas whose emotional power to teach and imbue the lesson of love encompassing all men, women and children is unmatched even by the Bible, for this work of unique genius moves all who read it to recall the ways things once were and ideally should have remained, the unfettered receptivity and open hearted connection they felt as children to all fellow mortals who shared life, and wish they could feel once again that trust and joy in others that as grown ups they have found harder and harder to remember as inevitably personal and material interests conflict with and social barriers corrupt the original simplicity and freedom of spirit of childhood.
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.
Dickens wrote the manuscript of A Christmas Carol in black ink, using his customary goose quill pen, on a mixture of high-quality, unlined paper: “London Superfine” for the title page and preface, and “Bath Superfine” for the narrative. Each sheet measured 8 7/8 x 7 1/4 inches. As soon as he completed the story on 2 December, he folded the manuscript vertically and either took or sent it to the printer, Bradbury and Evans. The compositors had to set type extremely quickly in order for the book to be completed by 19 December, just in time for the Christmas market. The printer sent proofs for Dickens to review by 4 or 5 December, but none of the author’s revised proof pages survive.
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.
A first-ever trade edition of the original manuscript of the beloved Christmas classic.
Every year at the holidays, the historic Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan displays one of the crown jewels of its extraordinary collection: the original manuscript of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, with its detailed emendations, deletions, and insertions in Dickens’s own hand. Here, for the first time in a beautiful trade edition, A Christmas Carol: The Original Manuscript Edition presents a facsimile of that invaluable manuscript, along with a typeset version of the story, a fascinating introduction by the Morgan’s chief literary curator on the history of the story, and a new foreword by Colm Tóibín celebrating its timeless appeal.
A Christmas Carol: The Original 1843 Manuscript
Introduction by Declan Kiely
Compelled by personal financial difficulties, Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in just six weeks during a period of intense creativity in the fall of 1843. This original manuscript reveals Dickens’s method of composition, allowing us to see the author at work. Deleted text is struck out with a continuous looping movement of the pen and replaced with fewer words for concision and more active verbs for greater vividness or immediacy of effect with. This heavily revised sixty-six-page draft―the only manuscript of the story―was sent to the printer so the book could be published on December 19, just in time for the Christmas market. When the manuscript was returned by the printer, Dickens had it bound in crimson morocco. It was purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan before 1900.
This beautifully bound volume contains the facsimile of Dickens’s manuscript of A Christmas Carol, published in color and in its entirety for the first time. Alongside each reproduced manuscript page written by Dickens is an authoritative typed transcription.
The Annotated Christmas Carol illustrated by Punch cartoonist John Leech and edited with an introduction and notes by Michael Patrick Hearn from W.W.Norton.Beyond these memorable copies of the original those who wish to dig deeper will be pleased by the 2004 edition of
Unfortunately both New York City radio and tv channels seem to have entirely abandoned performances of this classic this year. The only one we can immediately find is last year’s Greene Space performance on NPR Greene Space performance on NPR which unfortunately is a classic of inadequate American intonation which entirely misses the proper heartfelt spirit of the tale, apparently because the media sophisticates rounded up to do it are overcome by their post-age-of-irony fear of sentimentalism and take refuge in applying an overlay of childishly humorous cynicism.Update: On Channel 68-3 at 8pm and 10.15 pm Friday Dec 23 over the air GetTV will run from Sony’s library A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart as Scrooge together with Richard E. Grant, Ben Tibber, Joel Gray and Ian McNiece in the well reviewed, quite imaginatively modernized Peter Barnes 1999 British-American tv adaptation directed by David Jones.
Also listed on cable are
Wednesday December 21 8pm 5:30pm – A Christmas Carol (1984, George C. Scott) (AMC) – 11:30pm – A Christmas Carol (1951, Alastair Sim) (TCM)
Thursday Dec 22 5:30pm – A Christmas Carol (1984, George C. Scott) (AMC)
Saturday Dec 24 10:15am – Scrooge (1970, Albert Finney, Alec Guinness) (TCM)
11:00am – A Christmas Carol (1984, George C. Scott) (AMC)
Thanks to the beneficence of YouTube however the 1984 movie with George C. Scott is freely available on the Internet at A Christmas Carol (1984) where the mostly English accented lines are pronounced with full vigor and the only drawback to a rather magnificently overboard 1.41 min production may be the incontrovertibly cheerful features of the beloved Hollywood star which simply refuse to register the mean emotions of the initially misguided tightfisted Scrooge and his death grip on every penny.
But then of course there is the inimitable Alistair Sim in 1951 presenting Scrooge in A Christmas Carol as what he really must have been from flint hearted scowling Humbug detector to joyously redeemed turkey provider and guest at his nephew’s dinner celebration of true Christmas spirit.
But many treasure Seymour Hicks as his 1935 Scrooge as irreplaceably welded to the original text in script and spirit, and it is hard to argue with them, for if there is one version which captured all the literary keynotes it was this A Christmas Carol in its full 1.18 min glory.