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Dickens's Original 'A Christmas Carol' on View at the Morgan Library
Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Carol in Prose: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas". Autograph manuscript signed, December 1843. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan; MA 97
NEW YORK, NY.- Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Mr. Fezziwig, Bob Cratchit, the Ghost of Christmas Past—in the age of film and television these characters from Charles Dickens’s 'A Christmas Carol' are universally familiar. The story has been told as a stage musical, a serious dramatic film, and a modern comedy, and this November will be adapted once again in a new Disney movie starring Jim Carrey.

But, in the end, it all comes back to a magical book written by Dickens in a six-week flurry of activity in late 1843. Greeted with universal acclaim at the time of publication, 'A Christmas Carol' might rightfully be called an “instant masterpiece.” William Makepeace Thackeray called it a “national benefit” and an American factory owner gave his workers an extra day’s holiday when he had finished reading it.

When the manuscript was returned after printing Dickens arranged for it to be finely bound in red morocco leather and presented it as a gift to his solicitor. It was purchased by Pierpont Morgan in the 1890s. Beginning on November 20, visitors to The Morgan Library & Museum can view the original manuscript by Dickens in a special presentation in the museum’s famed McKim Building.

The manuscript reveals the author’s method of composition: the pace of writing and revision, apparently contiguous, is rapid and boldly confident. Revisions are inserted for vividness and immediacy of effect.

Deleted text is struck out with a cursive and continuous looping movement of the pen, and replaced with more active verbs and fewer words to achieve greater concision. Dickens’s manuscript shows vividly his efforts to create the highest-quality literary work in the shortest possible time.

Morgan Library | A Christmas Carol | Charles Dickens |


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