Dickens’s Christmas Carol: Book and Screen Adaptations

What would Christmas be without A Christmas Carol? Charles Dickens’s famous ghost story is as much a part of the season as plum pudding and mistletoe.

A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, commonly known as A Christmas Carol, is a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in London by Chapman & Hall in 1843 and illustrated by John Leech. It recounts the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. After their supernatural visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man.

Though he spent mere weeks writing it, Dickens’ novella  met with instant success and critical acclaim. The book was written and published in early Victorian era Britain, a period when there was strong nostalgia for old Christmas traditions together with the introduction of new customs, such as Christmas trees and greeting cards. This story of an original Christmas grinch has been a holiday staple for nearly two centuries, giving rise to countless adaptations for stage and screen.

Did you know that this brief novel by Charles Dickens literally changed the way we celebrate December 25th?

Join entertainment historian John Kenrick on the evening of Monday, December 5th at 7pm, as he looks back on how this beloved story had such a cultural impact — and offers video clips from some of the many stage and screen adaptations of Scrooge’s discovery of the true spirit of Christmas.

In this story of a miserly man, we are also presented with ideas of greed, forgiveness and tricky concepts of time; it is very much a festive tale of redemption and compassion.

Here are some fictional, film, and childrens’ adaptations, as well as editions of  the original Dickens classic,  all available to borrow with your Livingston Library card:

(Descriptions are taken from the publishers)

The Annotated Christmas Carol : A Christmas Carol In Prose illustrated by John Leech ; with an introduction, notes, and bibliography by Michael Patrick Hearn

Michael Patrick Hearn, the celebrated annotator of The Wizard of Oz and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, has prepared a sumptuous edition of the Dickens classic. This contribution to the Norton annotated series delves into the engrossing history of the book’s publication, when it first captivated Victorian England. This is the first edition to combine the original text of 1843 with Dickens’s Public Reading text, which had its world premiere in America in 1867 and has not been reprinted in nearly a century. Also included are rare photographs as well as the original Leech wood engravings and hand-colored etchings. These are supplemented by other contemporary illustrations by George Cruikshank, Gustave Dor, John Tenniel, and “Phiz.”

A Christmas Carol adapted by Philip Gooden ; illustrations by Pipi Sposito

An illustrated adaptation of Charles Dickens’s Victorian classic – at an easy-to-read level for readers of all ages.

A Christmas Carol : The Original Manuscript Edition

Every year at the holidays, the historic Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan displays one of the crown jewels of its extraordinary collection: the original manuscript of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, with its detailed emendations, deletions, and insertions in Dickens’s own hand. Here, for the first time in a beautiful trade edition, A Christmas Carol: The Original Manuscript Edition presents a facsimile of that invaluable manuscript, along with a typeset version of the story, a fascinating introduction by the Morgan’s chief literary curator on the history of the story, and a new foreword by Colm Tóibín celebrating its timeless appeal.

A Christmas Carol (DVD), 2010, with Bob Hoskins, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Jim Carrey, Robin Wright Penn

Ebenezer Scrooge begins the Christmas holiday with his usual miserly contempt, barking at his faithful clerk and his cheery nephew. But when the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come take him on an eye-opening journey revealing truths Old Scrooge is reluctant to face, he must open his heart to undo years of ill will before it’s too late. Includes featurettes and deleted scenes.

Dickens’ Christmas : A Victorian Celebration by Simon Callow

Selected by Simon Callow, one of Britain’s leading actors, is an anthology of the Christmas that fascinated Charles Dickens, from decorating the house with greenery and lighted candles to authentic recipes for such 19th-century treats as plum pudding, mince pies, and gingerbread men.

Eggs On Ice by Laura Childs

The Christmas season at the Cackleberry Club cafe is marred by murder in the latest book in the New York Times bestselling series. Some say that casting crusty attorney Allen Sharpe as Scrooge in the Kindred Players production of A Christmas Carol is just playing to type. He’s not the most beloved man in town. In fact, you’d have a dickens of a time finding someone who liked him. Still it’s a shock when the Ghost of Christmas Past stabs him during the first rehearsal. Suzanne, co-owner of the Cackleberry Club cafe, Kindred’s favorite combination diner, craft store and bookshop, chases the murderer out of the building but loses him in the alley. As the days pass the list of suspects grows longer.  The women of the Cackleberry Club are determined to find the killer before he can add another victim to his Christmas list.

How The Finch Stole Christmas! : A Meg Langslow Mystery by Donna Andrews

When her husband organizes a full-scale production of A Christmas Carol with a famous veteran actor in the starring role, Meg finds herself navigating unexpected challenges in the star’s baggage and enemies.

The Man Who Invented Christmas (DVD), 2018, with Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Miriam Margolyes, Simon Callow

The story of Charles Dickens and the creation of his holiday classic novel.

Marley : A Novel by Jon Clinch

From the acclaimed author of Finn comes a masterful re-imagining of Charles Dickens’s classic, in this darkly entertaining and moving exploration of the twisted relationship between Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley.

Mr. Dickens And His Carol by Samantha Silva

Charles Dickens is not feeling the Christmas spirit. His newest book is an utter flop, the critics have turned against him, relatives near and far hound him for money. While his wife plans a lavish holiday party for their ever-expanding family and circle of friends, Dickens has visions of the poor house. But when his publishers try to blackmail him into writing a Christmas book to save them all from financial ruin, he refuses. On one of his long night walks, in a once-beloved square, he meets the mysterious Eleanor Lovejoy, who might be just the muse he needs.

The Muppet Christmas Carol : The Illustrated Holiday Classic by Brooke Vitale ; illustrated by Luke Flowers

In this colorful storybook celebrating a funny and festive family favorite, Ebenezer Scrooge, a bitter and mean old man, sees the error of his ways after meeting three strange ghosts, and a whole lot of Muppets, one snowy Christmas Eve.

Murder In The First Edition (unabridged book on CD) by Lauren Elliott

Addie’s getting into the spirit for the upcoming Charity Auction–especially since she’s got an 1843 copy of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol to donate. Her former colleagues at the Boston Public Library have confirmed that its worth runs toward the high five figures, which should help with the new pediatric wing. Her mood darkens, though, when a visitor from the past appears–Jonathan Hemingway, the father of her late fiancé. His presence stirs up sad memories for Addie, but also has her fuming when Jonathan, true to his womanizing ways, runs off for a lunchtime liaison with Teresa Lang, who’s in charge of the auction. Soon after, Addie heads to Teresa’s office at the hospital–and finds the poor woman’s dead body. What she doesn’t find is her valuable first edition. What sort of Scrooge would steal from sick children and commit murder in the process? As a Nor’easter bears down and a mystery emerges about Jonathan’s past, Addie must find out if she can appraise people’s motives and characters as well as she can appraise rare books.

Scrooged (DVD), 1988, with Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe, Bobcat Goldthwait, Carol Kane, Robert Mitchum, Michael J. Pollard, Alfre Woodard

A modern version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, with Bill Murray portraying a nasty, uncaring, unforgiving TV network president. On Christmas Eve he is visited by three ghosts who show him the error of his ways.

Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

Reflective Journaling

What’s your favorite dewey decimal system number? This week’s journaling sheet asks you to reflect upon it. Borrow a book on that subject this week at the Livingston Library!

You can access this week’s reflective journaling sheet here:

Happy journaling!

-Jessica, Head of Adult Services & Acquisitions