A Christmas Classic Saved a Writer Glenda Bonham
It’s just not Christmas without a telling of the classic tale of ‘A Christmas Carol’. We all know the names of Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and Ebenezer Scrooge. Over 150 years and 150 Christmas Eves have passed since Charles Dickens penned the famous tale.
Few readers know Charles Dickens was dead broke, in debt, and on the verge of eviction at the time he wrote it. He had already gained popularity for his other works, but also donated his earnings flamboyantly to charity organizations and to beggars on the streets of London. He was the father of four children and his wife was expecting with a fifth.
Dickens had grown up bitterly poor, for his father and older brother had been cast into ‘debtors’ jail’ when Charles was only 12. He went to work at a blackening factory to support the family. After grueling months of labor in child slavery conditions, Charles understood wanton poverty and loathed it. He later wrote himself out of poverty. This was a rare feat for an author in 1843.
The short story took six weeks to write and he borrowed money to self-publish and get it into print. He could only afford to print 6,000 copies, but it went on sale on December 3 ahead of the Christmas season, which started on December 15th. By Christmas Eve all 6,000 copies had been sold.
‘A Christmas Carol’ became a play and Dickens toured with the show, gaining more fame and a share of the profit from ticket sales. His story of a rich man who became generous, helped a poor man to once more claw his way out of poverty. That is a special kind of Christmas story. So, be generous to the less fortunate this Christmas season, for if nothing else, you might help salvage the future of another writer.