A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. London: Chapman & Hall, 1843
12mo (164 x 100mm.), FIRST EDITION, Todd's first impression, first issue, with 14-15mm. between closest points of blind-stamping and gold wreath of upper cover, the "D" of "Dickens" unbroken and the text uncorrected, "Stave I" on p., engraved frontispiece, 3 hand-coloured plates and 4 woodcuts in the text by John Leech, red and blue title-page, half-title and verso of title printed in blue, 2pp. of advertisements at the end, original cinnamon vertically-waved cloth, stamped in blind and gilt, green endpapers, all edges gilt, collector's green cloth chemise and morocco-backed slipcase, wear to boards, leaning
Dickens first had his conception of A Christmas Carol in October 1843, and by the end of the month had John Leech, a fine artist introduced to him by Cruickshank, working on illustrations. By 10 November he was discussing the cover and advertising with Forster. As he told his Boston friend Felton he composed the story in his head while walking around "the back streets of London, fifteen and twenty miles, many a night when all the sober folks had gone to bed" (see Tomalin, p.148), frequently weeping and laughing and weeping again as he worked and strode about. Like Carlyle and Engels Dickens was fired up with anger at the indifference of the rich to the fate of the poor, who had almost no access to education, no care in sickness, saw their young children set to work for ruthless factory-owners and could consider themselves lucky if they were only half-starved. But it was Dickens' special genius to express this anger in a completely compelling narrative, putting into it all his vivid childhood memories of Camden Town and his own labour as a child together with the great insight that a grown man may pity the child he had been, resulting in an artistic creation which has captivated readers and audiences throughtout the world ever since, and which simultaneously invented the modern idea of the joyous Christmas festival.
Doris Louise Benz, bookplate, her sale at Christie's New York, 16 November 1984, lot 92
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