A Christmas Carol

DICKENS, Charles

DICKENS, Charles A Christmas Carol

Chapman & Hall, 1843.

First edition, first issue with 'STAVE I' on page [1]. Original red-brown cloth with gilt vignettes on upper cover and spine and blind stamped border (Todd's first issue binding). Green endpapers and a blue and red title page dated 1843. All edges gilt. Four hand coloured plates by John Leech, with four woodcuts in the text. A fine copy, bright and crisp, lightly cocked, contents fresh throughout.

Dickens completed writing A Christmas Carol in November 1843 and was determined to produce it as a beautiful gift book. He stipulated that it should have a fancy binding, all edges gilt and four full page hand coloured etchings. He asked for the title page to be printed in red and green and to have matching hand coloured green endpapers. Once the first copies had been produced thus Dickens found, to his disappointment, that the title page colours looked drab and the chalky endpapers smudged and colour dusted off. He then decided to change the title page to red and blue printing and to make the endpapers yellow, these did not need to be hand coloured and thus had more durability. Together with these changes was an amendment to the date on the title page from 1844 to 1843 as the book was for Christmas of the latter year. So it was that copies with yellow endpapers and red and blue titles met with the author's approval and were the ones prepared for publication day. The order in which copies were bound up for sale is impossible to determine and is a matter for conjecture as all three main variants (green end papers, red and green title; green end papers, red and blue title; yellow end papers, red and blue title) were available on publication day and the publishers would use whatever was to hand. Copies with green endpapers are more uncommon than those with yellow.
The book was an instant success, reportedly selling all 6000 copies of the first edition on the first day of publication, almost single-handedly spawning a new genre of "Christmas literature". Buoyed by his success, Dickens wrote a further four Christmas stories each seeking to strike a blow for the poor, uneducated and repressed, but imbuing his message with characteristic humour and good cheer. All were well received and sold well, though it is A Christmas Carol which has best stood the test of time.
"it is rather as if Dickens had rewritten a religious tract and filled it both with his own memories and with all the concerns of the period. He had, in other words, created a modern fairy story. And so it has remained." - Peter Ackroyd (Dickens).

Smith II 4

Stock ID: 45137

£40,000.00

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