December 2017 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Charles Dickens and Christmas

Dickens Reading.jpgIt's an inevitable match: Charles Dickens and Christmas. And this year marks the 150th anniversary of Dickens' famous reading tour of the United States, which means more mania than usual (e.g., a film starring Dan Stevens as Dickens). It prompted me to reread "On Stage with Charles Dickens," a feature story by Jonathan Shipley that we published several years back which highlights the author's theatrical readings. The article also provided a peek at Dickens' prompt copy of A Christmas Carol, i.e., the annotated and scribbled-upon copy he used as a script during public performances.

That prompt copy is back in the spotlight this season as part of the New York Public Library's exhibition, A Writer's Christmas: Dickens & More, on view through January 8. Culled from the Berg Collection of English and American Literature, this exhibition focuses on "holiday spirit" among several literary luminaries.

The Morgan Library is also hosting a Dickens-themed exhibit during the holidays (through January 14) called Charles Dickens and the Spirit of Christmas. It brings together, for the first time, all five manuscripts of the author's Christmas books: A Christmas Carol (1843), The Chimes (1844), The Cricket on the Hearth (1845), The Battle of Life (1846), and The Haunted Man (1848).

Should you find yourself in New York for the holidays, there will undoubtedly be a million ways to engage with Father Christmas--not Santa, but Charles Dickens! These two will bring you closest to the real thing.

Image: Illustration of Charles Dickens' reading tour from Harper's Weekly, Dec. 7, 1867.