Sacred Texts  Miscellaneous  Christmas 
Buy this Book at

Mr. Fezzwig's Christmas, frontispiece from 1843 Dickens' A Christmas Carol (Public domain)

A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens


Contents    Start Reading    Page Index    Text [Zipped]

"God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim...

This is a new scan of A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens' best-loved book, one that continues to be popular today, over a century and half later. It was created from a photographic facsimile of an early printing of the first edition of 1843, published by K.S. Giniger Company in 1956. Thus the text may diverge slightly from modern editions. Edgar Johnson noted in the introduction to the facsimile edition that "It is not the very earliest state, but the form of the first edition that Dickens himself preferred." There are a few quirks in this edition: e.g. the title of the first chapter is 'Stave I,' but successive chapter numbers are spelled out.

Dickens' tale of greed and redemption is a heart-warming tale of a Christmas miracle. But there is a dead serious purpose here. Dickens takes the mantle of an Old Testament prophet, issuing a stern warning to the capitalist class that they needed to mend their ways, or things would get a lot worse. It is also documentation of a now-lost world. Dickens shows us a panorama of 19th century English society, both high and low: bustling street scenes, a dingy rag-and-bones shop, a high-spirited Christmas dance.

Ironically, in spite of the message against greed, A Christmas Carol was actually written by Dickens during a sales slump, solely to make money. He penned the short pot-boiler in a whirlwind six weeks, so that he could get it on the shelves before Christmas. It went on sale on the 19th of December, 1843, and far exceeded expectations. The book went through six printings before Christmas day, 1843. Reviewers also loved it. The critic Francis Jeffrey said: "You have done more this little publication...than can be traced to all the pulpits and confessionals in Christendom since Christmas 1842." Thackeray said "It seems to me...a national benefit, and to every man or woman who reads it a personal kindness." It continues to be a beloved classic, as much a part of the holiday season as Christmas trees, Nativity displays, and Santa Claus.

Technical note: Contractions throughout were printed as a separate word in the original text (I 'll, we 're, etc.), as was the practice at the time, but they have been merged with the preceding word in this etext to facilitate searching.

--J.B. Hare, Dec. 9, 2007

Title Page
Stave I. Marley's Ghost
Stave Two. The First of the Three Spirits
Stave Three. The Second of the Three Spirits
Stave Four. The Last of the Spirits
Stave Five. The End of It