On December 17, 1843, London publishing house Chapman & Hall published a novella called A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. The novella, by Charles Dickens, would become a classic.
Charles Dickens had already found success from writing projects, including The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1836), Oliver Twist (1838) and Nicholas Nickleby (1839). His new book, which he only started writing three months earlier in September 1843, was an immediate success, and many today credit it with reviving Christmas traditions in Victorian England.
We now know the book simply as A Christmas Carol. While it may seem odd that a book about ghosts would become a Christmas classic (instead of a Halloween story), Dickens was not the only one telling yuletide ghost stories. In Victorian England, it was a tradition to tell ghost stories around the fire on Christmas Eve. I guess many places still have that tradition, but it is now called, “watching A Christmas Carol on television.”
Adaptations of “A Christmas Carol”
Soon after the novella was published, people began adapting the story for theater productions. Dickens himself often gave readings of the book throughout his lifetime.
As technology changed, there were adaptations for radio and screens. Thomas Edison created an early silent version of the story in 1910.
One of the most famous movie versions of the book — and the most highly regarded in many quarters — is 1951’s Scrooge, starring Alastair Sim. Sim, who was born in Edinburgh in 1900 and starred in a number of projects on stage and screen before his death in 1976, had the perfect voice and face for Mr. Scrooge.
And now with modern technology, we can add the tradition of watching Scrooge on the Internet.
Other famous versions of the movie feature George C. Scott, Jim Carrey, and Albert Finney as Scrooge. The Alistair Sim one remains my favorite.
An American Christmas Carol
But I must admit I have a soft spot for a 1979 made-for-television movie called An American Christmas Carol, starring Fonzie himself, Henry Winkler as the Scrooge character named Benedict Slade.
Maybe I was at an impressionable age when I first saw An American Christmas Carol. Or maybe I liked the way it put a new twist on an old story by setting it during the Depression in New England.
You also may watch An American Christmas Carol below.
No matter who is your favorite Scrooge, may the future find that it always be said of him (or her), “that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”
What is your favorite version of A Christmas Carol? Leave your two cents in the comments.
(Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)