It was about this time in October 1843 that Charles Dickens had the “ghost of an idea,” as he would call it, of writing a little Christmas story that would make him a little money. Provided he could get it to the printer in time for Christmas. Even Charles Dickens, it seems, was dogged by deadlines.
Dickens was right about the money part (it was just a little), but A Christmas Carol became a huge hit. How did he write a major masterpiece in just six short weeks?
A Christmas Carol: The Original 1843 Manuscript, our new and exclusive Levenger Press book, shows just how Dickens composed his story—every word, each insertion, all the deletions, and even the few omissions. Dickens forgot one key element in his rush to get Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Fezziwig, and the rest of the Christmas Carol crew to the printer in time for the Christmas pudding. He neglected to tell readers what happened to Tiny Tim.
We know this, of course, because handwritten manuscripts reveal everything and gloss over nothing. If you want to know how Charles Dickens’s mind worked, watch how his hand wrote.
Dickens wrote only one manuscript of A Christmas Carol—even he didn’t have time to write two in time for his deadline. The Morgan Library & Museum in New York is the manuscript’s keeper, and the conservators there restored each page just for the Levenger facsimile book. As collector editions go, this one is a classic. Seeing the Ghost of Christmas Present and the rest of the gang take shape with Dickens’s pen, on his very fine paper, makes a terrific Christmas present.
And we can be grateful that Dickens met his deadlines.