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

The 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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As uplifting as the tale of Scrooge itself, this is the story of how Charles Dickens revived the signal holiday of the Western world. Soon to be a major motion picture.

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.

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)

About the Author

LES STANDIFORD is the author of the critically acclaimed Last Train to Paradise, Meet You in Hell, and Washington Burning, as well as several novels. Recipient of the Frank O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, he is Founding Director of the Creative Writing Program at Florida International University in Miami, where he lives with his wife and three children.


Miami, Florida

Date of Birth:

October 31, 1945

Place of Birth:

Cambridge, Ohio


B.A., Muskingum College; M.A. and Ph.D., University of Utah

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Excerpted from "The Man Who Invented Christmas"
by .
Copyright © 2011 Les Standiford.
Excerpted by permission of Crown/Archetype.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Hoosierlv More than 1 year ago
This book satisfied the story behind the story of A CHRISTMAS CAROL and the man who fought some personal demons to get it done within his deadline. He elevated the poor without making them look utterly helpless and hapless. He chastened the hard-hearted rich who could not see beyond their unfathomable greed and utter selfishness. And he gave his readers a sense of just how to pull out the stops and REALLY celebrate a holiday outside of the religious institutions of the time. His three ghosts help a dowdy old man to repurpose his life and his goals and found that richness is only measured in how it is used to improve the lives around you, rather than in a bank vault. His protagonist is an unlovable person because he is incapable of loving anything that has no monetary value-- even his beloved family and his neighbors and employees. What is fascinating about this book is the back drop of Victorian England and the English speaking world's dismissal of a holiday and how it was revived from the ashes of feudal England and the Institutional Christendom and was reset as a social event without becoming preachy or overbearing. Dickens, a known socialist, was tempted by Marxist theory but rejected it and embraced instead a higher meaning of how society, church, and government can co-exist through the social networks of people as England evolved into the Industrial Revolution without losing or punishing any of those past institutions. He puts magic and sparkle and joy back into the gray skies of London England and the rest of the world. I would heartily recommend this book to the lover of history and for book club discussions, especially during the holiday season.
JL_Garner More than 1 year ago
Who among us hasn't read Charles Dickens' classic novel "A Christmas Carol" at least once, or seen one of the many film or TV adaptations over the years? Probably most of us, and we could debate for hours over whose Scrooge is the best.

It wasn't until I read Les Standiford's new volume "The Man Who Invented Christmas" that I realized just what a powerful impact Dickens' novel had on how the Anglo-American world regards and celebrates Christmas.

While Standiford's new book is hardly a groundbreaking study of Dickensian literature, it is a great read for casual Dickens fans, lovers of "A Christmas Carol," and those who are interested in the holiday itself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
horacewimsey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Attempts to parallel the rise in popularity of Christmas with the popularity of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." The book is filled with interesting facts about Dickens and about the making of "A Christmas Carol," but I don't think it does a great job at paralleling the arcs of Christmas celebration with the life of Charles Dickens. "A Christmas Carol" is quite popular, indeed, but I don't think I've ever heard it said that Charles Dickens reinvented Christmas with it.The physical book is a bit smaller than the average hardback which leads me to believe it was published to make a quick buck at Christmas by allowing itself to be easily displayed on the Christmas table at Barnes & Noble.
jfslone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Copy and pasted from my blog:I picked this book up from the new releases table at Borders because I am a huge fan of Charles Dickens, and with the Christmas season coming up fairly quickly I thought it would be beneficial to read about the origins of one of my favorite Christmas tales. This is a non-fiction work, and while it is a biography down to the last word, I found it to be extremely conversational and light reading. There are many different biographies out there on Dickens, but it was interesting to get a perspective based around a specific work. I think this helped Standiford narrow the multitude of facts available on Dickens down to a manageable amount, which contributed to the ease of reading for me.There are so many things to love about this book, especially for the die-hard fan of classic literature and its authors. There are many anecdotes discussed that link Dickens¿ life experiences to his work, and explain why he may have written the things he did. There is also an in-depth look at the symbolism of the Carol, as well as analysis of the reactions of Dickens¿ friends and reviewers of the time. All these are things that made the part of me that remembers I hold a degree in history absolutely hungry for more.There are a few areas I think Standiford could have improved upon before the final publication of this book. Since I¿ve just finished it, I think the ending is most fresh in my mind and I can only say I feel it was too short. I feel like I spent so many pages delving into the very heart of the Carol, with so many different aspects dissected and analyzed for my enjoyment, and then the conclusion was almost unbearably quick. After he finishes his analysis, Standiford rapidly discusses the other Christmas books Dickens wrote, followed by a quick succession of other novels, and then discusses his unfortunate demise and death from a stroke. While he does devote the final chapter to summarizing just how important Dickens was to the institution of Christmas and the celebrations we enjoy today, I just can¿t shake the feeling that the end was put together much faster than the rest of the book, and meant to tie up as many loose ends as possible without using too many words.This is interesting, in that it is almost the complete opposite of the book¿s beginning, which brings me to the only other fault I can find. I am an avid Dickens fan, therefore I already know much about his early work, the ways in which it was published, and the circumstances of his life. I spent a lot of time during the first portion of the book wondering just when the Carol was going to come into play, and when Standiford was going to start making connections that would make the background information make sense in regards to his thesis. He spends a lot of time covering basic biographical information in a decently good amount of detail.However, once he really got into the meat of the Carol and its circumstances, I was captivated. It¿s such an interesting perspective, and one that I think any fan of the story would appreciate. It¿s a plot that nearly everyone has heard, seen, or read in some way, and its themes are recognizable in nearly every nation of the world. To hear the origins of these themes and the opinions of the author himself as well as his closest friends and advisers, is a treat I wish I could savor for every classic work of literature that I love.The thought struck me, during the writing of this review, that perhaps the reason I found some parts too basic and humdrum, was because I am a scholar of Dickens. I knew this base material coming in to this book, and I think I believed it would begin as if the reader already knew the basics, and immediately proceed to delve into the Carol with fervor and in depth analysis. This book definitely has those things I was looking for, but it is written in such a way that even the most casual of fans could pick it up and understand exactly what Standiford is trying to say. He makes sure that he exclud
NewsieQ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A narrative about what led up to Dickens's writing A Christmas Carol -- and how it affected his difficult financial situation. As the subtitle suggests, the author also makes the case that if Dickens didn't exactly INVENT Christmas, he reinvented it after the celebration had been dormant for centuries in England.Not an overly scholarly book, but with adequate back notes for readers who want them.An enjoyable read -- now I'm onto the Annotated A Christmas Carol.
LittleTaiko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful read for the holiday season. My book club had just finished reading A Christmas Carol so this book came at the perfect time. I have always been a fan of Dickens and enjoyed learning more about his background and the circumstances that caused him to write this book. It was also very informative to see how Christmas used to be celebrated and how it has evolved over the years. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes A Christmas Carol.
George02141 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful biography of both Charles Dickens and the idea that was the genesis of A Christmas Carol. The book explains how our modern ideas of Christmas (outside of the tree and St. Nick) almost directly come from the famous Dickens story.
jasonlf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. Like a well written novel (not Dickensian though, if you want that read Dickens). It is partly biography (focusing on a narrow slice of Dickens' life surrounding the 1843 publication of A Christmas Carol), partly a history of Christmas, and partly a detailed description of the book publishing industry at the time. The subtitle is "How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits" and the book was probably stronger on the first half of this promise than the second. In fact, the defense of Dickens's Christmas role against Washington Irving was a bit of a stretch. Overall, I would recommend this to anyone as a great introduction to the period and the writer and a narrow slice of social history.
LydiainJoliet More than 1 year ago
I was expecting this to be such a good book, instead all I can say is it is okay. I don't think that I learned much from it any more so than I would have read in wikipedia, I felt that the author was quite detached from Charles Dickens and it was like reading a bland rendition of something that the author looked up in various books about Dickens and simply put in order and had printed into a book. Maybe reading it in the beginning of December might give it a bit more interest, but I wanted to get a more personal look into the man than this gives. To be honest I was so relieved when it was over...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy to read and holds your interest all the way. Dickenson has always been one of my favorite writers. This was an excellent peek into his life and also gave insight into the evelopment of one of our biggest holidays. If you have children...they need to read this
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dr.Angel More than 1 year ago
My joy in reading comes when I come across books such as these. I grew up reading books by Charles Dickens and of course CHRISTMAS CAROL is one of my favorite. When I picked up the treasure Mr. Standiford had written, I was ecstatic to say the least that I would now be able to read a history of the classic itself. Loved the book!
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