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Ten Fun Facts about A Christmas Carol

1. Marley was alive: to begin with.
As referenced in Michael Patrick Hearn’s The Annotated Christmas Carol, Dickens attended the same St. Patrick’s Day party as one Dr. Miles Marley. Knowing Dickens’ interest in unusual names, Dr. Marley remarked upon his own unusual surname. Dickens’ reply: “Your name will be a household word before the year is out.”

2. It only took six weeks to write.  

Dickens started writing obsessively in October 1843 and finished his novella at the end of November–just in time for Christmas. If you look at our production calendar for the show, we’ve had almost the same amount of time to mount this production!

3. Dickens roamed the streets during that time.
Dickens sporadically laughed and wept during the writing process and would take extremely long evening walks through London “when all sober folks had gone to bed.”  

4. It was the first and last of his writings that Dickens read publicly.

Dickens was one of the first famous writers to give public readings. His first reading was of A Christmas Carol. It took place in 1853 in Birmingham, England for a gathering of 2000 spectators. When his health began to deteriorate 17 years later, Dickens gave his last public reading of A Christmas Carol at St. James’ Hall in Piccadilly. He died three months later.

5. Dickens loved to perform.
Charles Dickens created a prompt book of A Christmas Carol for public readings. He would scribble notes about how to deliver the lines and “perform” these readings just like an actor on the stage. The only known prompt copy of A Christmas Carol is owned by the Berg Collection of English and American literature at the New York Public Library. 

6. He had some strange performance rituals. 

Before his readings, Dickens would drink two tablespoons of rum with cream for breakfast. Later, he would have a pint of champagne, and just before the performance, he would drink a sherry with a raw egg beaten into it. During the reading he would sip beef tea and would have soup just before bed. 

7. Fan is Scrooge’s sister–and Dickens’. 
Scrooge’s sister’s name is Fan. According to Hearn’s The Annotated Christmas Carol, Fanny was the name of Scrooge’s older (and favorite) sister. 


8. Merry Christmas or Happy Christmas?
Though it was more common to say “Happy Christmas,” Dickens repeats the phrase “Merry Christmas” throughout A Christmas Carol. When Dickens’ novella became wildly successful, the phrase “Merry Christmas” was popularized and became a standard Christmas greeting.

9. It quickly jumped from page to stage.
Only six weeks after its publication, A Christmas Carol was adapted by Edward Stirling for the London stage. It then transferred to New York’s Park Theatre. 


10. It was an inspiration to Robert Louis Stevenson, the writer of Treasure Island.

After reading the book in 1847, Stevenson wrote, “I want to go out and comfort someone; I shall never listen to the nonsense they tell one about not giving money – I shall give money; not that I haven’t done so always, but I shall do it with a high hand now.” We certainly hope that our production is just as inspiring! 

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