New Exhibition Explores How Dickens Reinvented Christmas

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 15 months ago

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New Exhibition Explores How Dickens Reinvented Christmas
48 Doughty Street. Photo: Charles Dickens Museum

Charles Dickens invented Christmas — or at least Christmas as we know it today. Before he penned his international bestseller A Christmas Carol — written in just six weeks — Christmas in Britain was a far more sombre affair. For example, the popularisation of the phrase 'Merry Christmas' is due to its inclusion in the book.

A new exhibition at the Charles Dickens Museum explores the origins of Dickens's festive novella, A Christmas Carol. As well as looking at how Dickens wrote his most famous work, the focus will be on why it's still as popular as it is today (since its publication in 1843, it's never been out of print).

Ghost of Christmas Present, John Leech's illustration for the original 1843 publication of A Christmas Carol

Items on display include the earliest hand-tinted etchings by John Leech for the first edition of A Christmas Carol in 1843, first editions of the story and playbills and presentation copies given by Dickens to his friends.

It coincides with new film, The Man Who Invented Christmas, due to be released on 1 December, and starring Dan Stevens as Dickens. Props and costumes from the film will be on display at the exhibition, including items worn by Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer and Jonathan Pryce.

The Man Who Invented Christmas is released in UK cinemas in December.

Cindy Sughrue, Director of the Charles Dickens Museum, said "We are delighted to be showing the quite exquisite costumes created for The Man Who Invented Christmas in the rooms in which Dickens and his family lived. It is a remarkable prospect for lovers of Dickens, film and Christmas.”

The Charles Dickens Museum is one of our favourite places in London at Christmas every year. Alongside the exhibition, the rooms of the house will be decked out in Christmas finery, with special candlelit performances and tours taking place.

The dining room, dressed for Christmas. Photo: Jayne Lloyd

A Ghost of an Idea: Unwrapping A Christmas Carol is at Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, 29 November 2017-25 February 2018. Keep an eye on the events page for details of other upcoming events.

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Last Updated 27 September 2017