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Bah Humbug! - Unwrapping 7 Lesser Known Facts About A Christmas Carol

The countdown to Christmas is on and we all know what that means. Yes, that's right, movies of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol will be shown on every available TV channel, numerous times a day, for the whole season.

And even if you avoid all of the obvious Scrooge-isms and Dickensian quotes, you'll still be getting a Christmas Carol reference every time you hear the words "Merry Christmas". Why? Well, without A Christmas Carol making "Merry Christmas" the most popular festive greeting, you'd probably be going around at this time of year greeting people with phrases like "Have a Cheery Mince Pie Season" or "Joyful Festive Over-Indulgence Day" instead!

So to prepare you for the attack of the Christmas Carol movies, here's seven unusual facts to keep you from tearing your hair out as you watch your tenth film adaptation in as many days:

Lesser known facts about Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol

It’s All In A Name:

Charles Dickens’ famously festive novel originally had a less than fabulous title. Dickens originally called it “A Christmas Carol. In prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas”. A little long-winded I’m sure you’ll agree. I don’t know about you, but seeing a book title so long that its actually made up of three whole sentences kind of puts me off! Luckily, Charlesy-Boy saw the error of his ways and shortened the book's title to the one we know and love today; “A Christmas Carol”. I love a bit of alliteration, don’t you?

Speedy Script:

Having set his mind to penning a Christmas novel, it took Dickens a super-speedy six short weeks to write A Christmas Carol. And once it was published, it only took six more weeks before it had been adapted into a play to be performed on stage. Historical rumour suggests that Dickens was a little short on cash, and he hoped this new festive work could bring in some serious wonga. So the quicker it was written, the quicker the big bucks would start rolling in. This was probably for the best, because a disagreement with his publishers meant Dickens had to cough up the cash to pay for the printing and publication of the book himself. Ouch!

Lesser known facts about Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol
The ghost of Marley visits Scrooge

Not-So-Catchy Catchphrases:

The infamous lead character from A Christmas Carol, Scrooge, is famous for his grinchy catchphrase; “Bah Humbug”. The phrase has become so well used today that you can even buy an anti-Christmas Christmas jumper with the phrase “Bah Humbug” printed in big letters across your chest (or even a jar of “Bah Humbug” mint humbugs!). So you’d think with all the popularity of Scrooge’s famous slogan, he must say it all the time in the book. Perhaps every time he speaks? Unfortunately not. Maybe every other page? Nope. At least once every chapter? Not on your nelly! The expression “Bah Humbug” only turns up twice. Twice. In the whole entire the book.

Six-Day Sell-Out:

The first edition of the book (that’s the first round of printed copies) went on sale on 19th December 1943. The books were sold for a pleasantly affordable price of just 6 shillings a copy. And to Dickens’ delight, his new novel was flying off the shelves! The inexpensive price and reinvigorated Christmas theme made the story incredibly popular. So much so, that all 6,000 copies of the first edition were sold out by the end of Christmas Eve.

Flashy Format:

You’d think the immediate smash-hit status of A Christmas Carol meant a big pay day for Dickens, but this didn’t end up being the case. Unfortunately, Dickens had a taste for expensive things and liked his books to be published in a very flashy style. This included gold lettering on the cover, luxury bindings, posh coloured title pages and more! These features were all very costly, which meant the sold-out first editions of A Christmas Carol hardly made him any wonga at all. Oops!

Lesser known facts about Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens' Series of Christmas Novels

Sticky Sequels:

Charles Dickens actually wrote many Christmas stories. After the popularity of A Christmas Carol, he went on to write four more festive novels. Almost all of the books include visits from some type of ghosts or phantoms (and even a magical cricket! Move over Pinocchio!). The books were very popular when they were originally released, but didn’t have the staying power of A Christmas Carol. But with titles like “The Haunted Man” and “The Cricket on the Hearth”, can anyone say they’re surprised? Your mum certainly wouldn’t be thanking you if you gifted her “The Battle of Life” on Christmas Day!

Lesser known facts about Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol
So. Many. Adaptations! - Credit Pinke on Flickr

Adept Adaptations:

A Christmas Carol is one of the most frequently adapted Christmas tales in the modern day. Dicken’s festive novel has been made into more than twenty TV shows, two ballets, four operas and even a video game! And then there’s all of the film adaptations. The Internet Movie Database (IMDB), lists over 100 movie versions of A Christmas Carol. This includes live action varieties, animated styles and even a short film dating all the way back to 1908. And if the adaptation from The Muppets is your current favourite, perhaps you could also try the versions starring Barbie, The Flintstones or The Smurfs!

We hope this list of lesser known facts about Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol has gone some way to reinvigorate your sense of excitement the next time the title flashes across your TV screen this Christmas.

And from all of us at Imagining History, a Joyful Festive Over-Indulgence Day to you!


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