Following up A Christmas Carol
Displayed together here are the four subsequent Christmas books that Dickens
produced during the 1840s: The Chimes, 1844; The Battle of Life, 1846;The Cricket on the Hearth, 1846; and The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain, 1848. In format, Dickens stuck closely to the successful pattern he had established with A Christmas Carol, and later the books would often be reprinted together, as a group. In content and theme, however, he avoided repetition.The Chimes mounts a fierce attack on the Utilitarian social policies of the hungry forties, and later Christmas books became increasingly dark in tone.
Broadsheet advertisement for A Christmas Carol, 1844
This stage adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Edward Stirling, opening at the Theatre Royal, Adelphi, on February 5 1844, was advertised as sanctioned by Dickens, to distinguish it from C.Z.Barnett’s competing production, A Christmas Carol: or, the Miser’s Warning!, which opened the same night at the Surrey Theatre, home of early Victorian melodrama. Charles Dickens
All of the Christmas books were rapidly transferred to the stage. This dramatization, based on “early Proofs, . . . by express permission of the Author,” was scripted even before the book itself was published. Smith, drama critic for the Illustrated London News, would later become famous for his monologue “The Ascent of Mont Blanc.” Opening at the Adelphi in London in December 1845, productions were running at ten other London theatres and uncountable provincial ones.
Charles Dickens, Extra Christmas Numbers from All the Year Round.
London: Chapman and Hall, 1863-1867.
Following the breakup of his marriage in 1859, Dickens founded a new periodical to replace the unfortunately-namedHousehold Words, but continued the practice of editing (and often largely writing himself) a special “Extra Christmas Number.” Displayed here is a complete set of Dickens’s Christmas stories for All the Year Round, in the original blue wrappers. Like most of Dickens’s later Christmas writings, they eschew the focus on happy family Christmas traditions that his earlier writings had done so much to establish.
Pip’s Christmas dinner, from Great Expectations (December 1861)
The most famous of Dickens’s later treatments of Christmas, the pre-Christmas installment of one of his best-known novels when it was serialized in All the Year Round, depicts the orphan Pip, stuffed against the sharp corner of a crowded Christmas table among distant relatives he already dislikes, anxiously waiting his irascible sister’s discovery that her prize pie has gone missing from the larder. This illustration is from a contemporary American edition of the novel.