A Christmas Carol (Ahrens Menken) - December 02 - December 04, 2021

Mill Creek High School

 End Notes 

A Christmas Carol: The Business End of Things


The novella A Christmas Carol was published on December 19, 1843. Inspired by Dickens's childhood of working in a factory after his father was put into debtor's prison, the book was written in response to common British attitudes towards poverty, especially child poverty. 


Technically speaking, A Christmas Carol was published by Chapman & Hall, but in an interesting turn of events, Dickens paid the publishing costs himself.


Sales of Dickens's novel Martin Chuzzlewit, also published by Chapman & Hall, had been much less than the publisher had hoped for. The owners of the company began to lose faith in the marketability of Dickens’s work. As a result, they proposed that A Christmas Carol be issued in an inexpensive collection of Dickens’s works or possibly as part of a new magazine.


Dickens was adamant that A Christmas Carol be published as a high-quality, stand-alone book. After a discussion between the parties, they came to an unusual agreement.


Dickens would fund the publication of A Christmas Carol himself.  He would also receive the profits. Chapman & Hall would just be paid for the printing costs and receive a fixed commission on the number of copies sold.


Since Dickens was paying for the publishing of the book, he wanted the book done his way. There were issues with the color of the endpapers, the title page and the book binding.


A Christmas Carol was the most successful book of the 1843 holiday season. By Christmas it sold six thousand copies and it continued to be popular into the new year.


Sadly, A Christmas Carol wasn’t the moneymaker that Dickens hoped it would be. Sales were good, but the publication costs had been high.


In the end, Dickens had this to say about A Christmas Carol:


I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.


Their faithful Friend and Servant,

C. D.

December, 1843

Page 21 of 23