Special Collections & Archives

Charles Dickens Theatre Collection

The Chimes: a Goblin story of some bells that rang and old year out and a new year in

The Chimes was the second of Dickens' five 'Christmas books' of the 1840s. It was published in 1840 and allegedly inspired by Dickens' visit to Genoa in Italy, when he heard the clamour of the bells from the villa where he was staying. Frontispiece for The Chimes, 1844

The book was a plea for the poor, using a similar device to A Christmas Carol of the protagonist witnessing the future of his family and friends, in this case shown to him by the spirits of the bells and their goblins. By witnessing a spiral of misery for those he cares for, the protagonist - and the reader - are exhorted to remember that mankind naturally strives for nobler things, rather than being naturally wicked.

Dickens approved a stage version of the novel by Gilbert Abbot A’Becket & Mark Lemon at the Adelphi, which was first performed on Wednesday December 18 1844. In the same month, the Lyceum produced a version of Dickens' story by Edward Stirling, originally performed on 26 December 1844. However, The Chimes proved less of a commercial success than A Christmas Carol (first produced in January 1844) and was also less successful than dramatisations of Dickens' major novels. Including productions in America, by 1850 it appears that The Chimes had only been produced around a dozen times and was rarely performed between the 1860s and the end of the nineteenth century.

Special Collections Holdings

Item type Item information Author Item number
Book


The chimes : a goblin story of some bells that rang an old year out and a new year in

(Chapman & Hall, 1845) First edition

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
F197262
Playscript

The chimes : a goblin story, of some bells that rang an old year out and a new year in ; a drama in four quarters

(first performed at the Adelphi Theatre, Strand, London,
December 18 1844)

 

Mark Lemon
(1809-1870)

Gilbert Abbot A’Becket
(1811-1856)

0597108 (Dicks) F181686 (Websters)

 

Playscript

The chimes : goblin story, of some bells that rang an old year out and a new year in, in three peals

(first performed at the Lyceum Theatre, Strand, London, December 23 1844)

Edward Stirling
(1807-1894)
0595768
Playbill

The chimes and "To persons about to marry" and Valentine and Orson

(performed at the Lyceum Theatre, Strand, London, January 13-14 1845)

Edward Stirling
(1807-1894)
0599548
Book

The chimes : a goblin story of some bells that rang an old year out and a new year in

(Chapman & Hall, 1845) Eighth edition

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
F063664
Book

A Christmas carol in prose; The chimes; The cricket on the hearth

(Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1846) Copyright edition

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
F126836
Playscript (manuscript and parts)

The Christmas chimes; or, Trotty Veck's dream : a drama in one act, from Chas Dickens story "The Chimes"

(first performed at The Pavilion, Whitechapel, in January 1873)

Arthur Williams

(1844-1915)

0598883 0597567 0597568 0597569
Postcard Characters from Charles Dickens. Trotty Veck (The Chimes - First Quarter.) 'There's nothing,' said Toby, 'more regular in its coming round than dinner-time, and nothing less regular in its coming round than dinner. That's the great difference between 'em.' (undated)   F175845
Postcard In Dickens Land TROTTY VECK AND HIS DAUGHTER MEG. 'Why, what am I a-thinking of!...I shall forget my own name next. It's tripe!' THE CHIMES. (undated) Mr. Joseph Clayton Clarke (Kyd) (1856-1937) F175829

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Last Updated: 02/02/2018