"A Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens, is not only a classic, but one of the best-loved stories ever written. This tribute site presents the text for your enjoyment, illustrated with images from my favorite screen adaptation, the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim in the role of everyone's favorite miser.

Introduction to "A Christmas Carol"

"I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it."

-Charles Dickens, December, 1843.

"There seems a magic in the very name of Christmas."

-Dickens, in his story, "A Christmas Dinner."

Charles Dickens expressed how he felt about Christmas most eloquently when he put these words in the mouth of Fred, Scrooge's affable nephew: "...I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.  And therefore, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"

To that I can only add a hearty "Amen," for it sums up my feelings about it in a way I could never equal.

One day, when I am in Heaven by the grace of God, I intend to seek out and meet Charles Dickens (who also trusted in the grace of God through Christ) and tell him just how much his story, "A Christmas Carol," has meant to me. Here, on Earth, my attempt at words would be inadequate; but in Heaven, where we shall "know even as we are known," mere human vocabulary will be no hinderance to full expression of my appreciation for writing such an inspiring and heart-warming story.

There is something about the book that lifts it above all others written by the author; indeed, above all other fictional works written by anyone. When compared to the author's other writings, "A Christmas Carol" stands uniquely apart as sheer perfection. One could almost feel it was Heaven-inspired, considering the effect it had on not only the readers (or hearers), but on Dickens himself, as he wrote it.

The act of writing A Christmas Carol moved Dickens most profoundly. During its composition, he wrote a friend that he "wept and laughed, and wept again, and excited himself in a most extraordinary manner in the composition; and thinking whereof, he walked about the black streets of London fifteen and twenty miles many a night, when all the sober folks had gone to bed."

The public was equally enthralled by it. Writing of his first audiences at a reading of the Carol he said, 'They lost nothing, misinterpreted nothing, followed everything closely, laughed and cried, and animated me to that extent that I felt we were all bodily going up into the clouds together."

Countless people through the decades since it was written have tried to express what it means to them. Since the story's first publication, people whom it moved deeply have reached within their own talents to sing its praises. In the February 3, 1844 issue of the Illustrated London News, someone wrote and contributed this poem about Dicken's holiday tale:

TO CHARLES DICKENS, ON HIS "CHRISTMAS CAROL."

Honour to Genius! When its lofty speech
Stirs through the soul, and wakes its echoing strings:
But honour tenfold! When its day-words reach
The selfish heart, and there let loose the springs

Of pity, gushing blood-warm from a breach
Rent in its close-bound, stony coverings.
Yea! Tenfold honour, and the love of men,
The kind, the good, attend on Genius then,
And bless and sanctify those words divine.
Such words, Charles Dickens, truly have been thine;
And thou hast earned true glory with all love:
Long may the torch of Christmas gladly shine
Upon thy home, while voices from above
Music thy carol and again impart
Mirth and good tidings to the poor man's heart.
-W. W. G.

My first exposure to this story, as a child, was in the form of the 1951 film by George Minter starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge, which has remained my favorite throughout the years. The film brings to vivid life the chilly bareness of London in winter, and Scrooge's equally cold and empty soul. The emotion generated by Scrooge's realization of his past losses, and the warmth of his subsequent change, are felt all the more against this stark backdrop.The feelings of joy brought by his new beginning are equalled by no other actor or adaptation. Sim brings a real personality to the role, making Scrooge a real person, rather than merely a stereotypical old curmudgeon.

It was this film that caused me to seek out and read the original story, which was an even richer experience, and the yearly reading of which has made all of my Christmases since brighter and merrier. (For a closer look at the film, and what it contributes to the story Dickens wrote, click here.) One of my favorite Christmas Eve traditions as I grew up was to take out the worn hard-back edition of the book that my mother had been given when she was a child. The pages were somewhat yellowed, and the pages becoming brittle, but it was the very oldness of the volume-- the slightly musty smell of the paper, the cracked binding-- that made it all the more special. It somehow connected me in a more intimate way with the events of the story, which was old in itself. And having been named after the character of Scrooge's persistantly cheerful nephew, Fred, how could I not feel connected?

Through the years, and over the course of several moves, the book was somehow lost. But a few years ago while moving into another home we had just bought, I opened the closet in the empty room that was going to be home office, and found-- the only item left in the house-- a old edition of slim red book. Picking it up, I read the title with amazement; "A Christmas Carol." It seemed a confirmation of the rightness of having moved there. This is now the version I take out each Christmas season and read through a number of times. How the story affects me! Like meeting old friends and family on the holidays, reading anew about each familiar character, event and location in the story brings joy.

When I am on the road during the holiday season, I always listen to my tapes of Patrick Stewart doing a dramatic reading of the story. No finer reading has ever been made, in my opinion. So memorable is his interpretation that it has influenced my reading of the story, and as I read it now, I hear in my mind Stewart's inflections, making it even more enjoyable. Visit the page devoted to that performance, as well as the 1999 TNT movie featuring Stewart in the role of Scrooge.
Another holiday favorite is listening to the radio version originally aired live in 1939 on the CBS Campbell Playhouse broadcast. Featuring Lionel Barrymore as Scrooge, narrated by Orson Welles, and produced by the famous Mercury Radio Theatre troupe, this excellent broadcast is a piece of pre-War history that illustrates live radio at it's best. It's hard to imagine, listening to it in our day, just how much work and effort went into producing a live broadcast of this complexity. You can enjoy it for yourself on CD, now available for ordering on this site, by going to this page.
Our family always makes it a point to watch Sim's 1951 film at least a couple of times during December. Not to miss any of the other wonderful versions; we watch those as well (especially the excellent musical version, "Scrooge," starring Albert Finney).

The source story is so powerful that it is effective in any form; even when many of its familiar characters are animated, as in Disney's excellent version, or portrayed by Muppets, as in the enjoyably comic (yet remarkably, and touchingly, reverent) "Muppet Christmas Carol."

But none seem to capture the spirit of the book as well as Sim's version, nor any actor as brilliant in the role as he. For that reason I have scattered images from the film throughout the story on this site, where it compliments the text. I hope that you enjoy this melding of the two, and that this site helps make your holiday a little brighter.

The story of Scrooge, Marley, Tiny Tim, and the rest, is so familiar to people from the various adaptations, that many assume they know the story... but when hard-pressed to recall having actually sat down to read it, realise that they never actually have! If you have never read Dicken's book, then you are missing out on the greatest appreciation and enjoyment of the story. No visual reproduction could ever touch the magic of the prose that he created. This site is maintained in the hopes of encouraging the reading of the story, and sharing that magic... whether for the first time, or another wonderful time of many.

So, to echo Tiny Tim, "God bless us, every one!"

-Fred Passmore Email me here!

Begin the Story...


MENU:
Introduction
Marley's Ghost
The First of the Three Spirits
The Second of the Three Spirits
The Last of the Spirits
The End of It
A Christmas Dinner
A Christmas Present
1939 Radio Broadcast
Other Radio Broadcasts

Radio and Film Versions


Information about the
1951 version with Alastair Sim, with photos, comparisons to the novel and excerpts from the soundtrack.


Information about the
1939 radio version produced by Orson Welles and starring Lionel Barrymore.


Information about the
BBC radio version starring Michael Gough.Also the 1975 CBS Radio Mystery Theater version starring E.G. Marshall!


Information about
Disney's "A Christmas Carol" short animated feature -Updated with a new article!


Information about "Scrooge," the
1970 musical version starring Albert Finney -Updated with new photos!


Information about the
Muppet's Christmas Carol -Updated with a new article!


Information about Rich Little's one-man version of
"A Christmas Carol."

New!

Information about the
1971 Chuck Jones animated film featuring Alastair Sim as the voice of Scrooge!

New!

Information about Patrick Stewart's one-man performance of the book, as well as his 1999 movie adaptation. -Updated with a new article!


Updates on the new big-screen version of "A Christmas Carol" starring
Jim Carrey.

Related Links:

Extra items and pages that are part of this site:

Christmas Essays by Dickens

"Now, the tree is decorated with bright merriment, and song, and dance, and cheerfulness. And they are welcome. Innocent and welcome be they ever held, beneath the branches of the Christmas Tree, which cast no gloomy shadow!"
-Charles Dickens

So writes Charles Dickens concerning a tradition that even in his day was precious. Enjoy his essay "The Christmas Tree," as he recollects the joy it brought to his youth!

"Who can be insensible to the outpourings of good feeling, and the honest interchange of affectionate attachment, which abound at this season of the year? A Christmas family-party! We know nothing in nature more delightful! There seems a magic in the very name of Christmas."
-Charles Dickens

The family seated around the Christmas dinner table is a treasured time that becomes forever etched in our hearts. Enjoy Dicken's essay, "A Christmas Dinner," as he relates the joys it brings.

"Lost friend, lost child, lost parent, sister, brother, husband, wife, we will not so discard you! You shall hold your cherished places in our Christmas hearts, and by our Christmas fires; and in the season of immortal hope, and on the birthday of immortal mercy, we will shut out Nothing!"
-Charles Dickens

In his short essay, "What Christmas Is As We Grow Older," Dickens encourages us to not forget the past joys and loves we have known, in order to shut out the pain of loss. Rather, we defeat the loss by celebrating the memories of times and people once close to us.


"My dear children, I am very anxious that you should know something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him." -Charles Dickens

Dickens never forgot the Source of the holiday cheer he spread about with his writings, or the meaning of the silent night in Bethlehem so long ago. In this excerpt from his private story written for his children, "The Life of Our Lord," Dickens explains simply in his own words "The Christmas Story."

"A Christmas Carol" Artwork and Illustrations


Complete scan of "A Christmas Carol"
comic book adaptation from the 70's by Marvel Comics!


Enjoy scenes from the story in these
period illustrations!


Classics Illustrated "A Christmas Carol"
cover #1.


Classics Illustrated "A Christmas Carol"
cover #2.


Pendulum's Illustrated Stories "A Christmas Carol"
cover.


A Dean Morrissey
painting of Scrooge outside his London business. The print can be bought here.


Montage of
scenes from the novel by artist Jeffrey Bedrick made for a puzzle, which can be bought here.

NEW!

See Scrooge in various ads for merchandise that make him happy!

Other resources outside of this site:

View the entire "Classics Illustrated" adaptation of the Dickens story.

Jim Hill, Disney expert and all-around entertainment industry reviewer, writes an informative and entertaining series of articles on the many incarnations of Scrooge on his excellent site.

Read the story behind of the writing of this most-loved Christmas story here, as originally published in Reader's Digest.

Christmas According to Dickens: A series of articles by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts.

Dickens and Christmas: an excellent site!

View an incredible table-top reproduction of Dicken's London on this page.

In an essay on his favorite Christmas videos, columnist C. W. Oberleitner examines the best adaptations of "A Christmas Carol" on film.

Alastair Sim's film as viewed through the eyes of a horror movie fan: A Very Scary Christmas!

Introduction /Marley's Ghost / The First of the Three Spirits / The Second of the Three Spirits
The Last of the Spirits / The End of It / A Christmas Dinner /A Christmas Present /1939 Radio Broadcast


Find out more about
Sheep Laughs Records and Fred Passmore here!
You will also find contact info on that page, so you can take
a hazardous and technically unexplainable journey to confer, converse, and otherwise hobknob with a brother Christmas Carol fan.