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The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits
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The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  605 ratings  ·  172 reviews
As uplifting as the tale of Scrooge itself, this is the story of how one writer and one book revived the signal holiday of the Western world.

Just before Christmas in 1843, a debt-ridden and dispirited Charles Dickens wrote a small book he hoped would keep his creditors at bay. His publisher turned it down, so Dickens used what little money he had to put out A Christmas Car
Paperback, 241 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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A Christmas Carol is almost a perfect work of art. Unlike Dickens’ serials – sprawling, digressive works like Bleak House, Great Expectations, and David CopperfieldCarol is short and succinct. It is neatly separated into acts, has only one major character, and heads confidently towards its conclusion from the very first page (a thing that can’t be said for Dickens’ longer novels, which grow ever wider and shaggier with each passing page).

I love A Christmas Carol. I read it every year, always
Standiford's examination of the financial/business side of how Charles Dickens' classic was published (he was near broke, considered washed-up, and later faced a major copyright piracy court case where he was "Scrooged" out of his fair share of monetary gain for unauthorized U.S. publications) is at times very dry and reads like a doctoral thesis. Yet, the number of anecdotes and cool little factoids about the Christmas holiday is fascinating. However, I have a sneaking feeling that Peter Ackroy ...more
Dec 19, 2008 Mahlon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dickens fans, trivia buffs, or folks who are just plain crazy about Christmas
Recommended to Mahlon by: Kindle store
Shelves: read-2008
Have you ever wondered how some of your favorite books came to be written? Les Standiford gives us a fascinating glimpse into the mind of Charles Dickens, and details the circumstances that led him to produce the world's most beloved and well-known Christmas story A Christmas Carol, while at the same time helping change the way the holiday is celebrated. This book is filled with enough fun facts to delight Dickens fans, trivia buffs, or folks who are just plain crazy about Christmas, there is so ...more
THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS. (2011). Les Standiford. *****.
The full title includes: “How Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ Rescued His Career and Revived out Holiday Spirits.” That’s a real mouthful, and can probably be used as the total review of this book by that skillful writer, Mr. Standiford. His last several books have all been non-fiction, where he has seemed to have found his metier. His first writings were all crime fiction featuring a series hero, John Deal, a real estate devel
Disclaimer: I love Christmas. A lot.

This is a well-researched and very interesting microhistory that delves into the quintessential novel that defines Christmas.

It is fascinating to note that Dickens's readership was staggering. In a time when novels were still in their infancy, his serial publications were beyond epic. Today, a New York Times best-selling novel sells 75,000 to 100,000 copies. That means that 1/20 of 1% of literate adult Americans must purchase a copy for a book to be a massive
John Dobbs
I really liked this book. It is a limited biography of Charles Dickens and the events surrounding his writing of A Christmas Carol. I enjoyed the story of how that came to be - but it is much broader than just that. I only gave this book three stars because at times it reads a bit like a term paper. There are long passages with very explicit details. For instance, when one of his books came out several papers / magazines / authors wrote their opinions. So many are listed here - along with their ...more
The title is completely accurate in describing this wonderfully woven tale. It is reassuring to know that there are people like Dickens who firstly, can rise above their meager circumstances and secondly, use their celebrity to make the world a better place.

"Dickens believed that a reasonable capitalistic society could be made to recognize its responsibility to all its citizens, and that it was the duty of those most fortunate to share a portion of their gain wight those whose grasp had slipped
First line: "In London, in 1824, it was the custom to treat a debtor little differently from a man who had reached into a purse and stolen a similar sum."

Being the rose-colored-glasses-Christmas-fanatic that I am, I very much enjoyed this look into the life of Charles Dickens and the creation of, arguably, his most beloved book. I was thrilled to discover that perhaps his drive to create this book was partially due to monetary needs, but that he did in fact cherish this holiday close to his hear
The autumn of 1843 was a difficult time for Charles Dickens. His early successes with books like "Oliver Twist" and "The Old Curiosity Shop" were behind him. Sales of his two most recent books—"American Notes," and "The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit"—had dropped off sharply. A father of four, with a fifth on the way, Dickens had fallen into debt and was facing the prospect of real financial hardship.

To humanity's great benefit, Dickens' responded to this crisis by creating one of the
While I'm not fully conversant with the gift publishing genre, this has to be a first. Les Standiford and Crown have created something special. The paper, its weight, texture and overall quality as well as the print and general layout appear to be of gift book quality. The text is substantive, and just deep enough for a gift book "ideal".

While not a polemic or a research piece (though it is nicely referenced)the author builds a case, not so much for Dickens' invention of Christmas, but that much
Mary Lou
This book is actually pretty good. The reason for my 3 star rating, and lower ratings from several other readers as well, I presume, is that we judged the book by its cover and had different expectations. What I anticipated was a warm look at A Christmas Carol, how Dickens came to write it, how it became ingrained in our cultural consciousness (perhaps more so than any other book except the Bible), and in what way it's defined Christmas since its writing. We get some of that (e.g. an interesting ...more
Dec 12, 2009 Tamra rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dickens fans and A Christmas Carol lovers
Decent, but not great.

A sort-of biography, though intentionally limited to the story of the Carol (but only sort of. It covers all of Dickens' life, it just stays focused on Carol). The 4 sections are, in essence: Before Carol, Carol Comes Out, After Carol, and "Thanks for the Good Times, Dickens." Eh.

Though it's punctuated with interesting trivia about Dickens and Christmas and International Copyright Law (or lack of it) at the time, it's a little dry. Especially the first section. I think Sta
Shakespeare is popular for his "play within a play" and Standiford here creates a curious study of how books are marketed, within a book that is curiously marketed. It is packaged like a light-hearted "fireside pleasure" that you buy as a stocking stuffer for a cousin. In reality, it's a history book with much of the source being John Forster's previous biographies of Dickens. I'm not sure how to rate it here but it could be a 4-5 star academic dissertation.

If you can hang on until Chapter 10, i
"Dickens, as might be imagined, was beside himself, but it was not as if this were his first brush with domestic piracy and plagiarism. Though his literal texts were protected by British copyright law, his immense popularity had encouraged any number of fly-by-night publishers to profit from the most blatant imitations of his work . . . other efforts such as 'Pickwick in America,' 'Oliver Twiss,' Nickelas Nicklebery,' 'Barnaby Budge,' and more by Bos, Buz, Poz, and others."
If you know a great deal about Dickens, much of this will be familiar territory, but even so, Standiford covers a lot of interesting territory in this slim volume. Of particular interest is the background about the celebration of Christmas in the West as well as 19th century copyright issues. I also like that Standiford, while painting Dickens in a positive light, does not shy away from the author's mercurial temperament.
Michael Harbour
Very little, actually, about Dickens inventing (or more accurately re-inventing or re-popularizing) Christmas. A friendly and succinct overview, though, of Dickens' life with a focus on the pivotal role A Christmas Carol played in reviving Dickens' spirits and re-invigorating his career. Lots of attention payed to the details and development of publishing and copyright as they were practiced at the time. Fascinating to me, perhaps not as much to others, but breezily presented and easily digested ...more
Different readers will have different expectations when they see the full title of this one: The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits.

The focus is not so much on Christmas, as it is on Charles Dickens: his private and public life, his writing career, his inspirations, his fears and worries, his relationship with his publishers. The focus isn't solely on A Christmas Carol. Yes, this work gets discussed in detail. B
All I have to say is that FINALLY I am done with this book. And, in a nick of time too since our book club meeting is tomorrow evening. I have to say that I really did not like this book. I found it extremely hard to read, not engaging, and did not put me in the holiday spirit at all. I basically had to make a deal with myself these last couple of days to read 25 pages of night to finish. Unfortunately, I kept falling asleep which meant that I just slammed through the last 50 pages during naptim ...more
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Coming from a poor background, Dickens was always sympathetic to the struggles of the lower class and felt strongly that society must reform to help those in need, eliminating the “wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable” twin specters of Ignorance and Want. He despised the hypocrisy he saw in much of the organized religion of the day that preached charity, but fell short on practicing it. Mr. Standiford states, “Dickens believed that a reasonable capitalistic society could be made to re ...more
The Man Who Invented Christmas is about Charles Dickens’ writing career, family, and friends. Focus is on one of his best known works today, A Christmas Carol, how he came to write the book and what it meant for him. It is interesting to see how he progressed through the years, the incidents that affected his personality and lessons learned. I liked the paragraph that read, “He proclaimed his belief that with the pursuit and accumulation of knowledge, man had the capacity to change himself and h ...more
The Man Who Invented Christmas is a book about Charles Dickens and how his book A Christmas Carol impacted the way that people today celebrate Christmas. The book begins with a history of Charles, including his writing history up to A Christmas Carol.

This book was a rather quick read for me, which was surprising as it was non-fiction. However, it reads like a fiction book, narrating the life of Charles. I learned a great deal of things from the book about his writing process and how he felt abou
Bought this book half price at an after-Christmas sale last year, and saved it to read this holiday season.

Was drawn in by the lovely cover and the subject matter- I have grown up reading and watching different incarnations of "A Christmas Carol" - and the holidays would not be complete in the Clements household without the presence of Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit et al.

Ended up being rather disappointed with the book - didn't focus enough on "A Christmas Carol" and its impact. The book's tit
Michael Anson
The Man Who Invented Christmas

My cousin and I just went to the Goodman Theater’s production of A Christmas Carol, originally written as a novel by Charles Dickens. The highly imaginative production featured colorblind casting, meaning that an actor’s ethnicity would not figure into his or her consideration for a role, and in fact, Bob Cratchit’s wife and the Ghost of Christmas Present were played by black women. To me, this further universalized the story, and heightened its appeal, not only to
I really enjoyed this book, it was very informative and provided a very memorable historic context for the life and times of Charles Dickens without feeling like an academic work. I particularly enjoyed learning about the publishing industry and how it worked (or rather how it didn't protect the interests of the author) in the U.K. nor the U.S. for that matter. Given the popularity of pirated versions of popular published work which were sold very cheaply in U.K. in America it is a wonder how th ...more
I am not a huge Dickens scholar, and never had to read anything by him in either high school or college. Everyone knows A Christmas Carol though. I have actually read this book a few times, most recently over the holidays this week. This is an interesting (and easy) read about how A Christmas Carol reversed Dickens's fortunes financially and how it has impacted Western English culture's view of Christmas.
Learned of this book before Christmas, but wasn't able to read during "the season". At first, this was a little disappointing and I considered waiting until a future Nov/Dec to come back to it. But having quickly read (it is, indeed, a rather fast read) during the post-holiday doldrums of winter I find the Christmas message Dickens' book and the story of the books' impact on his life perfectly suited to a time other than "Christmas".

Why? Dickens, we learn, was not overly religious. A Christmas C
I don't often read non-fiction, but I am glad that I made an exception for this book. It is extremely well written, well researched and well thought out. I already knew some of Dickens' history, but this book made him much more human and accessible to me. Likewise, I found all of the historical details completely fascinating. A very easy and interesting read. I would recommend this to just about anyone.
This was a Christmas gift that I began reading somewhat reluctantly, only to find out that it was a fairly interesting little book. For the most part, it is a biographical survey of Dickens (rather than a study of A CHRISTMAS CAROL itself). It delves into Dickens' meteoric rise in the English literary world, his mid-career failures (a botched trip to America, coulped with his first big literary misfire, MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT), and his striking comeback with A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Too much attention, I t ...more
I really did not care for this book as a whole, although I did find bits and pieces of it fairly interesting.

I think my main problem was the writer's style. The flow of the books seemed disorganized to me and I kept getting bogged down in details that were not that important (so why did he include all of these details is what I want to know?)

I've read some Dickens and, based on that and what others in my book club were saying about the book, the author did not capture Dickens personality. In fac
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Les Standiford is a historian and author and has since 1985 been the Director of the Florida International University Creative Writing Program. Standiford has been awarded the Frank O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Fiction, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and belongs to the Associated Writing Programs, Mystery Writers of Ameri ...more
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“Society.” John Forster, who would one day become Dickens’s great friend, adviser, editor, and first biographer, wrote in the Examiner that Dickens had excelled particularly in his portraits of the ludicrous and the pathetic, all rendered in an “agreeable, racy style.” 0 likes
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