Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits

Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits

by Les Standiford
     
 

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"Just before Christmas in 1843, a debt-ridden and dispirited Charles Dickens wrote a small book he hoped would keep his creditors at bay. His publisher turned it down, so Dickens used what little money he had to put out A Christmas Carol himself. He worried it might be the end of his career as a novelist." "The book immediately caused a sensation. And it breathed new… See more details below

Overview

"Just before Christmas in 1843, a debt-ridden and dispirited Charles Dickens wrote a small book he hoped would keep his creditors at bay. His publisher turned it down, so Dickens used what little money he had to put out A Christmas Carol himself. He worried it might be the end of his career as a novelist." "The book immediately caused a sensation. And it breathed new life into a holiday that had fallen into disfavor, undermined by lingering Puritanism and the cold modernity of the Industrial Revolution. It was a harsh and dreary age, in desperate need of spiritual renewal, ready to embrace a book that ended with blessings for one and all." With warmth, wit, and an infusion of Christmas cheer, Les Standiford whisks us back to Victorian England, its most beloved storyteller, and the birth of the Christmas we know best. The Man Who Invented Christmas is a rich and satisfying read for Scrooges and sentimentalists alike.

Editorial Reviews

Kathryn Harrison
The Man Who Invented Christmas may not be necessary…not with regard to the juggernaut of Dickens scholarship, but it's a sweet and sincere addition. A stocking stuffer for the bookish on your holiday list.
—The New York Times
Jonathan Yardley
Standiford's account of A Christmas Carol relies almost entirely on secondary sources and probably will be dismissed by Dickensians as adding nothing new to our understanding of the writer, but it is a nice addition to the literature of Christmas. A small addition, to be sure, but then so was A Christmas Carol.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Charles Dickens was almost 32 in late 1843, and his career trajectory was downward. Since the megasuccess of The Old Curiosity Shop, dwindling sales of his work and problems with his publisher left little doubt in his mind: he would support his growing household as a travel writer on the Continent. As the disappointing Martin Chuzzlewit continued its serialization, A Christmas Carol appeared in a richly illustrated edition. Although initial sales were brisk, high production costs coupled with spotty advertising and a low retail price made the book unprofitable. But, says Standiford, this modern fable had a profound impact on Anglo-American culture and its author's career. If Dickens did not precisely invent Christmas, his ghost story created a new framework for celebrating it. Standiford (The Last Train to Paradise) covers an impressive amount of ground, from the theological underpinnings of Christmas to Dickens's rocky relations with America, evolving copyright laws and an explanation of how A Christmas Carol became responsible for the slaughter of more turkeys than geese in the months of November and December. (Nov.)

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Library Journal

What would Christmas be without the yearly viewing or reading of A Christmas Carol? It is a classic of the season-perhaps the most memorable Christmas tale of all time-that captures the spirit of the holiday. Thriller and nonfiction writer Standiford (Bone Key: A John Deal Novel; Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Changed America) attempts to address what prompted Dickens to write this much-loved tale in this affectionate portrait of a once-successful writer trying desperately to revive his career. After a triumphant beginning, Dickens struggled as his later works failed to gain any critical or monetary success. Verging on bankruptcy and looking for inspiration, Dickens agreed to speak at a fund-raiser for the Manchester Athenaeum. Dickens left the event inspired and walked around Manchester until he had the fully formed Carol in his head. Standiford deftly traces the many influences in Dickens's life that lead to and followed that momentous event, weaving an entertaining tale that will delight Dickens and Christmas lovers alike. Recommended for public libraries.
—Deborah Hicks

From the Publisher
“In this small but remarkable book, Les Standiford offers readers a gift for all seasons. Carefully researched and written in a stately, lucid prose, this book will be cherished by those who love Dickens, enjoy Christmas, or ponder the endless mysteries of human behavior.”
—Roland Merullo, author of American Savior

“A wonderfully absorbing and revealing account, full of things I did not realize about A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, and the world of publishing. Once I started reading this book, truly, I could not put it down.”
—Dan Wakefield, author of New York in the Fifties

The Man Who Invented Christmas is destined to be a classic about a classic. As Tiny Tim might say, ‘God Bless Everyone,’ in this case Standiford, for creating such a delightful and engaging gem—part history, part literary analysis, and all heart, just like the book that inspired it.”
—Madeleine Blais, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of Uphill Walkers

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307405784
Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/04/2008
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 7.84(h) x 1.02(d)

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