Time to say a few words about my new book, The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits. The publication date is November 4, which hopefully gives everyone plenty of time to pick up copies for every reader on your holiday list. The title pretty much says it all, but I should add that much of what is in this book came as a real surprise to me--yet one more instance of how all this recent work in history has been making up for those days I dozed through class in high school and college. I had always assumed that Charles Dickens had it pretty easy once he became established as the best-selling author of his time, but that is not the case. By 1843, he was broke, his critical reputation was shot, and his once-fabled popularity was at an all time low. By chance, he came up with a story that he believed would turn his fortunes around. But the fact is that A Christmas Carol, the most popular Christmas story of all time, very nearly did not happen. When he went excitedly to his publishers to pitch his story, Messrs Chapman and Hall listened patiently, then suggested he lie down until the urge to tell "a ghost story of Christmas" had passed. Angry but undeterred, Dickens resolved to publish the tale himself, even though he had only six weeks to finish writing it, have it designed, illustrated and printed, and copies delivered to the shelves. But he managed, and the story of how this self-published book became at one time second only to the Bible in readership gripped me like Jacob Marley fastening on Scrooge. There is much in here about how this book came to shape Christmas as we know it today; but it is also very much about writing, and the publishing industry, and personal courange and conviction...I hope you will enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it. Do let me know.
I will close with a final word on the fabulous job that the good folks at Crown have done with the design of my own "little book." The cover is obviously pretty cool, but wait until you have a look at the book itself: the layout, the colored ink, the uncut pages...forget the words inside, this would make a great gift as a holiday decoration! Kudos to my editors Rachel Klayman and Lucinda Bartley and everyone else inside Crown Publishers for all the hard work and care.