Special Collections & Archives

 

Charles Dickens Theatre Collection

A Christmas Carol

The first of Dickens' Christmas books, A Christmas Carol was published in December 1843, part way through the serial run of Martin Chuzzlewit.

The tale was initially taken to the stage with great fervour; Dickens allowed Edward Stirling to adapt his work into a stage version, which was first produced at the Adelphi in January 1844. Dickens took the opportunity to perform theatrical readings of A Christmas Carol, which could be very dramatic events. There were also pirate versions: Charles Webb’s unofficial adaptation which appears to have spawned the most versions and became the most popular. By mid February, there were probably around 8 different adaptations of A Christmas Carol on stage. The play reached America in time for Christmas 1844, giving around 16 productions during the first year of the story’s life.

This was impressive for a non-serialised work of Dickens, but the popularity of the tale dwindled during the nineteenth century. This may have been due to the censorship of sacred matters on stage; many theatres stressed the moral, rather than spiritual, teaching of their Carols. There was an attempt, in the early twentieth century to prevent performances of A Christmas Carol, since it was 'a sacred subject', but performers and members of the clergy (some of whom were also performers) rushed to the defence. The attempt failed and, by the mid twentieth century, Dickens was a part of the respected establishment.

Special Collections Holdings

Item type Item information Author Item number
Playscript


A Christmas Carol; or, a miser's warning

(first performed at the Royal Surrey Theatre, London, 5 February 1844)

Charles Zachary Barnett

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

0590128

0590129

Book

A Christmas Carol in prose; The Chimes; The Cricket on the Hearth

Copyright edition

(Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1846)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

F126836

Playbill

The Christmas Carol and The Enchanted Horn

(performed at the Royal Victoria Theatre, London, 7th December 1861

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

Edward J. Towers

0596393
Programme

The Life-Boat, A Christmas Carol and How I Did My Duty

(performed at the Belmont Mutual Improvement Association Hall, Battersea on 4th January 1882)

George Robert Sims
(1847-1922)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

F174028
Programme

A Christmas Carol

(performed at the Victoria Rooms, Clifton, January 28th 1897)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

F174678

Programme

A Christmas Carol

(performed at the Royal Links Hotel, Norfolk on 28th August 1901)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

F173051
Programme

A Christmas Carol

(performed at the Theatre Royal, Stratford on 4th December 1950)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

Phyllis Gow

F173112
Programme

A Christmas Carol

(performed at the Palace Theatre, Mansfield on 21st December 1953)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
F172740
Programme

The Peep-Show [including a scene which features a selection of Dickens' characters]

(performed at the London Hippodrome, undated)

Lauri Wylie
(fl. 1920s)
F174709

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Last Updated: 02/06/2016