Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol

November 22, 2022 through January 8, 2023
Seaetd figure of Scrooge in white night gown and cap sitting in pink armchair next to a fireplace on the left with a table and lamp on the right.

Every holiday season, the Morgan displays Charles Dickens’s original manuscript of A Christmas Carol in J. Pierpont Morgan's Library. Dickens wrote his iconic tale in a six-week flurry of activity beginning in October 1843 and ending in time for Christmas publication. He had the manuscript bound in red goatskin leather as a gift for his solicitor, Thomas Mitton. The manuscript then passed through several owners before Pierpont Morgan acquired it in the 1890s.

Beginning a few years ago, the Morgan started advancing the Christmas Carol manuscript by one page each season. This year the manuscript is open to the scene in which two gentlemen soliciting charitable donations visit Scrooge at his counting house. He meets their earnest request with sarcasm, asking if prisons and workhouses had suddenly ceased to exist: “’the Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour then?’ said Scrooge. ‘Both very busy Sir.’ ‘Oh! I was afraid from what you said at first that something had occurred, to stop them in their useful course.” When the gentlemen say that “many would rather die” than suffer the conditions of Victorian workhouses, Scrooge sounds a note of encouragement: “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” These words will come back to haunt Scrooge later in the night.

Explore Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol online and view other related highlights from the collection.

Share in the festivities with your own copy of A Christmas Carol available from the Morgan Shop. This is the first-ever trade edition of Charles Dickens's "own and only" manuscript of his classic and beloved story. It contains a facsimile of the original manuscript of A Christmas Carol, published in full-color, with a foreword by Colm Tóibín and introduction by Declan Kiely.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870), A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, illustration by John Leech, London: Chapman & Hall, 1843. Bequest of Gordon N. Ray, 1987. PML 132030.