Day 10 15 SLEEPS UNTIL CHRISTMAS DAY
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG 10th December 2018
In 1843 the 31-year-old Charles Dickens spoke at a charity night to raise money for the Manchester Athenaeum, an institute dedicated to “advancement and diffusion of knowledge”. Dickens shared the stage with the young Benjamin Disraeli and it was on a long nocturnal walk later that evening that the idea of a “little Christmas book” presented itself. Starting work in October 1843, Dickens wrote obsessively for six weeks and was finished by the end of November, so the book could be published in time for Christmas. As he wrote he wept, laughed and wandered around London at night, “when all sober folks had gone to bed”.
A Christmas Carol sold out in three days; but because of the expensive quality of the paper and the binding, Dickens made just £130 profit. He reacted badly: “I shall be ruined past all mortal hope of redemption!” – and promptly changed publishers. But the book touched people deeply. William Thackeray said the book was “a national benefit, and to every man or woman who reads it, a personal kindness”. The great historian and friend of Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, went straight out and bought a turkey after reading it.
Dickens gave his first performance of A Christmas Carol in Birmingham Town Hall in 1853, 10 years after its publication, to a crowd of 2,000 people. The show lasted for three hours. He was the first writer to perform his own work to a crowd in this way: he was a talented actor, and his public readings meant many who couldn’t afford five shillings for the book got to hear the story. Dickens became each character on stage; Carlyle described him as “an entire theatre company… under one hat”.
Dickens filleted his novels to create “prompt” versions. The prompt copy of A Christmas Carol which Dickens used on his American reading tour is owned by the New York Public Library. Dickens ripped pages out of a printed copy and stuck them into a new large-leafed blank book. These he annotated with stage directions and cues such as “Tone down the Pathos” and underlining passages for effect: “For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.” He even used postage stamps as Post-it notes.
Dickens made two American tours, in 1852 and 1867. On the second he performed twice in New York. People lined up in the snow for tickets – some even slept outside to be sure of a place – and by opening time the queue was a mile long. No two performances by Dickens were the same. Sometimes he would make things up on the night, or slam the book shut with a flourish and perform from memory. The second tour earned him £19,000 – about £1.4 million in today’s money and far more than he was then earning from the royalties on his books.
On reading days Dickens would drink two tablespoons of rum mixed with cream for breakfast, a pint of champagne for tea, and half an hour before he went on stage he would knock back a sherry with a raw egg beaten into it. During the five-minute interval he liked a cup of beef tea and later on headed to bed with a bowl of soup. He performed in full evening dress, with a bright red flower in his buttonhole, a purple waistcoat and a watch-chain. He used a reading desk and had a carpet, gaslights and large screens behind him to project his voice into the crowd. He took six men on the road with him including his manager, a valet, a gasman, and others for administrative work and odd jobs.
Dickens’s first and last public readings were of A Christmas Carol; the final one was at St James’s Hall in Piccadilly on March 15, 1870. Dickens decided to retire from readings as his health was failing. His son recorded his last words to the audience: “… from these garish lights I vanish now for evermore, with one heartfelt, grateful, respectful, and affectionate farewell.” His son continued: “There was a dead silence as my father turned away, much moved; and then came from the audience such a burst and tumult of cheers and applause as were almost too much to bear.” Three months later, Charles Dickens was dead. He died 9 June 1870 aged 58.
INSPIRATIONAL CHRISTMAS QUOTE FOR THE DAY
‘Tis the season to be jolly.
CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS PICTURE BOOK
- Father Christmas Heard a Parp by Olaf Falafel
- Dear Santa by Rachel Elliot
CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS BOOK For 5+ READERS
The Santa Trap – Jonathan Emmett
The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle
A RADIO TIMES CHRISTMAS COVER
The Week Junior Annual 2019
The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)
HAPPINESS AT CHRISTMAS IS…
Happiness at Christmas is…having snowflakes on noses and eyelashes
IT’S GRANDAD’S CHRISTMAS CRACKER JOKE OF THE DAY
How did Scrooge win the football game? The ghost of Christmas passed!
AT CHRISTMAS LOVE IS…
At Christmas Love is…your gift to each other
CHRISTMAS TRACK OF THE DAY
Pretty Paper – Roy Orbison
Highest Chart Position: No.6 17th December 1964
A CHRISTMAS ALBUM
Rod Stewart – Merry Christmas Baby
WHAT DAY IS IT?
Monday 10th December 2018
Human Rights Day
©2018 Phil M Robinson & jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk