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A Christmas Carol: The Original 1843 Manuscript

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A Christmas Carol: The Original 1843 Manuscript

Not every literary masterpiece has taken months or even years to write (sorry, Marcel). Robert Louis Stevenson composed his initial draft of Jekyll and Hyde in a matter of a few days. For Charles Dickens—the master of the serialized story—writing the full version of A Christmas Carol took just six short weeks. He literally wrote it in a fever in the fall of 1843, as he was suffering from a bad cold when he began.

The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City owns the only manuscript of A Christmas Carol: 66 boldly scrawled pages filled with Dickens's emendations. Levenger now offers the only full-color facsimile of the manuscript, a priceless record of how a great storyteller created one of the most enduring of all Christmas stories. Here, some pages from the Levenger Press book showing the first-ever appearance of Scrooge, Marley, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit and the Ghosts of Christmas.

On page 37, Dickens introduced the tiny hero of the story…and gave him a name other than Tim.

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Dickens concluded each stave, or chapter, with this flourish. It was a signal to the printer to begin a new stave—a term he borrowed from music, since this was, after all, a Christmas carol.

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Dickens made it clear that there was only one manuscript of A Christmas Carol. No subsequent revised drafts have ever been found.

My own and only
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To produce high-definition facsimiles, the Morgan took the unprecedented step of removing the binding that the manuscript was housed in and washing each page three times. The result is a color and clarity never before seen on these manuscript pages since Dickens penned them in 1843.

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