Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Carol

“The Dye is cast: The People have passed the River and cutt away the Bridge: last Night Three Cargoes of Tea, were emptied into the Harbour. This is the grandest, Event, which has ever yet happened Since, the Controversy, with Britain, opened!”

From John Adams to James Warren, 17 December 1773

I. A Christmas Carol 

Boz began the story in the grip of "a hideous cold that has taken possession of me to an almost unprecedented extent...at this moment I am deaf in the ears, hoarse in the throat, red in the nose, green in the gills, damp in the eyes, twitchy in the joints and fractious in the temper".  Dicken could not afford to to let illness slow him.

Beginning in 1837, Charles Dickens's novels were serialized in monthly installments,  The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickelby.  As successful as his writing was, Boz worried about money.  As a fallback he studied law, although never practiced, and created a weekly magazine which he wrote in its entirety, publishing The Old Curiosity Shop, and Barnaby Rudge in its pages. By 1843 he needed a break and arranged with his publishers to spend 6 months touring the US in return for a monthly stipend to be repaid by his travel writings and next book, "Martin Chuzzlewit".

The autumn of 1843 were troubled times for the Dickens household.  Martin Chuzzlewit and the travel book did not sell well,  Mrs. Dickens was pregnant with their fifth child, household expenses were greater than planned,  Boz was paying off his father and brothers debts, while he was in debt to his publishers.  His sole recourse was to write a successful book, quickly. Charles hoped to become rich, to earn a thousand pounds, which would see him through.

He began writing in mid October and completed his ghost story, A Christmas Carol on December 2nd.  It went immediately to the printer and was first published on this date in 1843. The book was a commercial success, selling out its 6000 print run almost immediately, a second edition of 3000 copies soon followed.  The Christmas Carol was not a commercial success however.  By the end of 1844 Boz only earned 726 pounds, far less than the 1000 pounds he anticipated.



LPC said...

I love Dickens. But I'm missing why you call him Boz?

Toad said...

Boz was a pseudonym frequently used by Dickens. See Sketches by Boz.