Readers' Favorite

December 20, 2023

A Deep Dive into A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

by Donna Huber

One of the best-known Christmas stories is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. There are stage productions and movies and many families read it together every year. I've read it a few times but I always find the story behind the story interesting. So for Day 20 of our 25 Days of Christmas Reading, we're going to do a deep dive into A Christmas Carol and discover why it is such a beloved tale.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.

A Christmas Carol was first published on December 19, 1843, and included illustrations by John Leech. The first edition sold out by Christmas Eve and by the end of following year 13 editions had been printed. Since its first printing in 1843, it has never been out of print.

Dickens was greatly concerned about the plight of poor children in Victorian England. He was inspired to write this story after visiting a school for London's street children and saw it as a way to raise awareness of this social issue. With its themes of redemption and caring for the poor, scholars are in disagreement over whether it is a purely secular story or if it is a Christian allegory.

A Christmas Carol was not his first Christmas story - he wrote 3 before it. It also wasn't his last Christmas story - he wrote 4 more. 
  • Christmas Festivities (1835)
  • The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton (1836)
  • The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In (1844)
  • The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of Home (1845)
  • The Battle of Life: A Love Story (1846)
  • The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain: A Fancy for Christmas-Time (1848)
Have you read any of these stories? I didn't even know they existed! 

In 1849, Dickens began to do public readings of the novella, and as they were so successful, he did them yearly until his death in 1870.

Editions and Adaptations

As mentioned, A Christmas Carol has never been out of print. There have been countless editions published. In 2015, I read the book for the first time. It was A Watermill Classic and I'm not sure much had been changed since the 1843 edition (though I don't remember any illustrations). I discussed it in a Christmas blog post. I liked it well enough but I didn't think it would be a yearly tradition for me. Then in 2018, I purchased the Barnes & Noble Christmas Treasury (learn more about the Treasury) and it included A Christmas Carol. So I read it again and found this edition to be easier to read. It also included illustrations. And then in 2020, I was asked to review Dave McCluskey's adaptation. It is my favorite. McCluskey wrote the story in verse. In my review, I mention that it was kind of like Clement Clarke Moore wrote A Christmas Carol. I was impressed with McCluskey's ability to turn the story into a rhyme. I listened to the audiobook and it is delightful - I might need to listen to it again this year. (If you aren't already an Audible member, you can start your free trial today)

The story has also been adapted for film and stage - there is even an opera!

My mom says the best film adaptation of A Christmas Carol is the one starring George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge. It was a television movie which aired in 1984. I would have been 7 years old and I found it incredibly scary. It wasn't just the ghost of Christmas Future that scared me. When the ghost of Christmas Present revealed the children Want and Need from beneath his robe, it freaked me out.

My favorite version of A Christmas Carol is the Muppets version which came out in 1992. I watch it every year on Christmas Eve when "there's only one more sleep til Christmas".

According to, the earliest film adaptation was 1938. It starred Reginald Owen as Scrooge and Gene Lockhart as Bob Cratchit. (Click the link above to see the entire list of remakes and movie adaptations.)

Do you have a favorite movie version or have you seen a stage play of the story?

Influence of Christmas Traditions

During the Victorian era, telling ghost stories at Christmas time was a favorite family tradition. The nights were long (no electric lights!) and families would huddle around the hearth. At first these stories were oral traditions handed down from generation to generation. With the invention of a printing press that made written stories more accessible, families began reading ghost stories - like A Christmas Carol.

The Victorians were also exploring new traditions at this time. Many of them, like the Christmas tree, were introduced by Prince Albert (Queen Victoria's husband), who brought the traditions with him from his home country of Germany. A Christmas Carol is also credited with influencing many of our modern-day traditions.

There was an increase in charitable giving in Britain following the publication of the novella and many directly attribute the increase to the book.

Learn More About A Christmas Carol

I used the Wikipedia article on A Christmas Carol for much of the information included in this post. There is even more about Dickens and the book in the article.

I also found this interesting article from the New York Public Library.

In 2017, I reviewed the novel Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva. It is a beautiful story and much of the story is based on fact.

If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can stream for free the movie The Man Who Invented Christmas, which tells the story behind the creation of the book. (Not a Prime member? Start your 30 day free trial)

Be sure to check out all of our 25 Days of Christmas Reading posts.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us. Get even more book news in your inbox, sign up for our newsletter today! Or Follow Girl Who Reads with Bloglovin. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.


Post a Comment