Starting tomorrow, UofG Archives & Special Collections will be tweeting an image a day from the University's beautiful first edition of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

Campus e-News visited the book with Dr Matthew Creasy, Lecturer in English Lecturer, to get you an exclusive sneak preview.

Designing the first edition

The redemption of the miser Ebenezer Scrooge has caught our imaginations for over 170 years. But did you know Dickens took just six weeks to write his ghost-filled masterpiece? And that for him it was a financial disaster?

In September 1843, Dickens told a friend that he had started work on a novel intended to soften hearts to the plight of poor children like Tiny Tim. Inspired by his own experience of child labour and the neglect he saw around the country, he said he was writing "at a white heat…weeping and laughing and weeping again".

Despite his massive popularity as a writer, with his fifth child on the way Dickens was struggling financially. He needed to produce something that would sell, so set out to make A Christmas Carol the gift of the season. He designed the book at his own expense, insisting on gilt inlays and hand-coloured illustrations, but he also wanted the story to be accessible so charged just five shillings for the gorgeous result. In the end, after production costs, he barely made enough to support his growing family.

Nonetheless, he must have been delighted that A Christmas Carol was an instant hit. Released mid-December 1843, the first 6,000 copies sold out by Christmas Eve. By February 1844 there were eight stage versions in London alone, and there have been literally hundreds of theatre, radio and screen adaptations since – how many have you seen?

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More information

First published: 13 December 2016