First published on this day 167 years ago, in 1843, it was described by the reviewer in the London literary magazine, the Athenaeum as "a tale to make the reader laugh and cry – to open his hands, and open his heart to charity even toward the uncharitable..."
The poet, Thomas Hood, wrote: "If Christmas, with its ancient and hospitable customs, its social and charitable observances, were ever in danger of decay, this is the book that would give them a new lease. The very name of the author predisposes one to the kindlier feelings; and a peep at the Frontispiece sets the animal spirits capering..."
I wrote a whole book about this book (long out of print now, it was called A Christmas Carol: The Unsung Story) and the idea for that volume grew out of many years of collecting various versions of the Carol in all types of media and a radio programme that I wrote and presented on BBC Radio 4 (according to my Archivist and fellow Caroller, Mr Boll Weavil) on 22 December 1987.
On Christmas Day, 1993 – to mark the 150th anniversary of the original publication – a revised version was broadcast and since most of you will have never heard it, I'm posting a recording of it here on today's blog.
So, make yourself a nice cup of tea (or a tankard of mulled wine), warm up a mince pie or two, put your feet up and get into the spirit of the season with what, I hope, is still an interesting account of how and why Charles Dickens was inspired to write what is, surely, his most famous book and savour of some of the many interpretations – the good, the bad and the downright ugly – that have been perpetrated over the years.
You'll meet Mr Scrooge, his seven-years-dead partner, Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come in a Dickensian celebration entitled, quite simply...
There have been many new interpretations of Dickens' story (in books and on stage, film and television) since this programme was last broadcast, and on Christmas Day this year, the BBC's Doctor Who will be presenting its own unique take on the tale.
You can read about various Disneyesque versions of the saga of Ebenezer Scrooge over at my Decidedly Disney blog.
* You can click on any of the labels below to see some of those previous posts.
Caricature of Charles Dickens by Tobo