A Christmas Carol is a spooky festival perennial, but did you know these 10 intriguing facts about Dickens’ tale of ghostly redemption, from CALLUM CAMPBELL?
A Christmas Carol is one of the most revered Christmas books ever written with countless adaptations into plays, films, pantomimes and musicals.
This festive piece of work was written in 1843 and written by Charles Dickens, one of England’s greatest authors and perhaps one of the greatest across the globe. Despite this fame there are quite a few weird facts surrounding this book and here are 10 of them!
1. Charles Dickens had a ritual before reading A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens had a ritual he performed on the days he performed public readings of his book; he would, without fail, eat drink 2 tablespoons of rum mixed with cream for breakfast, a pint of champagne for tea, exactly 30 minutes before his performance he would slurp down a sherry with a raw egg beaten into it. During his performance he would feast on beef tea and before bed he would consume a bowl of soup. These actions would be followed to the letter everyday he had a public reading and he would eat nothing more or nothing less.
2. Dickens was highly emotional while writing A Christmas Carol
While writing the book Dickens’ emotions went haywire, he would maniacally laugh and despairingly cry throughout the writing stage of the book. These episodes of intense emotion would come on randomly, without warning, and these erratic mood swings have led some historians to suggest Dickens was bipolar and was depressed.
3. A Christmas Carol popularised the term “Merry Christmas”
Nowadays when someone says Happy Christmas we look at them funny however in Dickens period, the Victorian era, it was the standard greeting at this festive time. Dickens used Merry Christmas in his book instead and the popularity of his book was so much that it resulted in Merry Christmas becoming the regular greeting.
4. The book was originally a political manifesto
Dickens originally wrote the book with the intent of it becoming a manifesto supporting the rise of the poor and working class and the fall of the rich who callously ignore the struggles of the poor. He did this by using metaphors within the book, such as the revelation of the two children by the Ghost of Christmas Present. This is meant to show that Ignorance and Want (meaning poverty not greed) are mankind’s children.
5. Charles Dickens walked 15-20 miles a night to think up ideas for A Christmas Carol
Dickens had an interesting method of generating ideas for the book, he would walk around London in the dead of night for hours on end, playing out scenarios in his head and rapidly thinking up character and plot ideas. These walks would cover 15 to 20 miles a night!
6. Tiny Tim was inspired by Charles Dickens’ sick nephew
Not all his characters were formulated from these 3am walks, Tiny Tim was inspired by his nephew who was seriously ill with multiple different ailments. He used the character of Tiny Tim to try and drum up awareness for the sick and poor of London. With the proceeds from A Christmas Carol he helped pay for Henry’s treatment but this was unsuccessful and sadly Henry died when he was 9.
7. A Christmas Carol inspired new phrases into everyday language
As well as popularising Merry Christmas, the book also brought some new phrases into the world. Scrooge for a tight-fisted miser and “Bah Humbug” as a general expression of dismay or disbelief even though Scrooge only uses it twice in the book. “Bah Humbug” has become such a widely used phrase that biologists named a new species of snail after it, “Ba Humbugi”.
8. Despite its success, Dickens made little profit from A Christmas Carol
The financial effect this book had is interesting. Despite people buying it in the masses Dickens made it so the materials the book was to be published with were rather costly, so he did not make much of a profit. Despite this financial failing at Dickens’ end it spurred the well off of Britain to begin giving alms to the poor. This tradition of alms giving at Christmas still continues to this day.
9. Dickens predicted his own death after a public reading of the book
During his final public reading he performed A Christmas Carol and at the end of his performance he stated; “From these garish lights, I vanish now for evermore, with a heartfelt, grateful, respectful and affectionate farewell”. He dies several months later and some believe that this final statement was him predicting his own death.
10. A Christmas Carol may be a copy of an earlier Dickens story
Dickens wrote the book in six weeks and although this is a mark of his writing talent and a result of his long winding brainstorm walks, there is another factor in this achievement. Early in his career he had written a short story named The Goblins Who Stole a Sexton, about a miser who changed his ways after supernatural occurrences on Christmas. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
There were 10 weird and intriguing facts about A Christmas Carol, right in time for Christmas. I hope you enjoyed reading and Merry Christmas to all!