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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

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  2,188 ratings  ·  463 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
Hardcover, 241 pages
Published November 4th 2008 by Crown (first published January 1st 2008)
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Kathryn This book is based on the book with the same title as the movie, "The Man Who Invented Christmas" by Les Sandiford. This book was written in 2008.

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 ·  2,188 ratings  ·  463 reviews

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Start your review of The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits
Dec 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: christmas, biography
A Christmas Carol is almost a perfect work of art. Unlike Dickens’ serials – sprawling, digressive epics 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
Richard Derus
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am on record for lo, these many years as Mr. Chuckles the Dick's least admiring consumer. In point of fact, I was *FORCED*AT*GRADEPOINT* to read A Tale of Two Cities, unsympathetically held to my teacher's viciously cruel reading schedule (an entire semester! A waste of the hours I could've {and did} devote to other books!) by my Dickensian-in-all-senses elder sister, and ultimately had an essay demanded of me about these tedious, seriously uninteresting people.

As a side note, that was the
Katie Ziegler (Life Between Words)
Hooo! Just under the wire. I thought I’d finish this book a week ago, but life. Loved reading this right after Mr. Dickens and His Carol. It was a wonderful real-life/non-fiction counterpart to that fictional story. Informative and festive this book was a short and sweet little book about Dickens writing his Carol and how it shaped Christmas as we know it. Lovely.
This portion of the book: 3.5 stars

This came to my attention after seeing the trailer for movie with Dan Stevens. (The book came recommended after the movie was added to my wishlist).

For the most part, it kept my interest.I hadn't realized that there was such an interesting story behind the creation of the story. One of the things that surprised me was that Dickens was in such debt at the time and that he'd had three flops in a row before his mega-success with his little Carol.

The background
Jenn "JR"
This book is more about the professional and creative development of Dickens' work. There is a tremendous amount of context provided in the way that authorship transformed during the Victorian period.

There's a large amount of history of Dickens' relationship with different publishers and the way they did business. These are all things that are fairly factual and can be examined based on extensive documentation. It may or may not be as interesting to some readers as the original title suggests
Bam cooks the books ;-)
After reading Mr. Dickens and His Carol: A Novel, a fictionalized account of how Dickens came to write his famous Christmas Carol, I was hungry for more information and found it in this nonfiction book which was published in 2008 and made into a movie this year.

Les Standiford's book is very engaging as well as informational and covers most of Dickens' life, not just the few weeks it took to write his most famous Christmas story. Why was it so popular at the time it was published and remains so
Mary Lou
Jun 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Anyone who loves Dickens’ A Christmas Carol should read this book; The Man Who Invented Christmas will help its reader understand Dickens’ condition at the time he wrote the story, and the challenges he faced in getting it written at all, let alone in the few weeks he had to finish the project before the Christmas season passed him by.

But The Man Who Invented Christmas is much more than a book about a book. Instead, it is best understood as an excellent short biography of Dickens and an
Dec 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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 ...more
Nov 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Another book in the Dickens' biography bookshelf. It is not a bad book, per se, but essentially written from secondary sources. It gathers the known biographical information about Dickens and "houses" it within a look at how A Christmas Carol came to be and its cultural and historic impact.

For readability and a look at Dickens' career without wading into a biographical work like Peter Ackroyd's biography of Dickens, I can recommend it.
Donna Hines
A fabulous insight into the past, present, and future of what made Dicken's Classic works so revelant to today and how we as Americans celebrate current traditions related to Christmas with everything that entails.
This is a classic tale 'ghostly' if you will about a man and his struggles to not only support his family ( wife and 5 kids) but to also do so with dignity and class.
During the 1800's it was not easy to make a name for oneself and Dicken's didn't initially set out to become a famous
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2017
Concise biographical insight into Dickens & the impulses and context for his creation of the beloved literary classic A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Smooth, highly readable prose but plenty of facts too. I particularly enjoyed learning about the Christmas writings of authors prior to Dickens--such as Washington Irving's non-fiction on the subject--as well as writers mostly forgotten today who were greatly influenced by Dicken's "little carol," such as Benjamin Farjeon. If you're a writer, or interested ...more
High Plains Library District
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, victoria
Not only do we learn about Charles Dickens and the creation of 'A Christmas Carol' but also a brief history of (1) publishing/marketing during the mid 1800s, (2) the horrendous condition of workhouses and the poor of London, and (3) the Christmas holiday. All of this in a small, non-intimidating book. Happy Holidays!

Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
“Celebrating Christmas without some reference to A Christmas Carol seems impossible, a remarkable fact given that the book was published more than 150 years ago. Indeed, the resonance of the story has remained so strong through the generations that commentators have referred to Dickens as the man who invented Christmas.”

So, this book needs a change in its cover art. If you, like me, judged this book by its Christmasy cover, all red, green, and candy canes... and randomly thought it was a story
Jan 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 16, 2008 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Jessi Roesner
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I never realized how little I knew about Dickens' life and the circumstances surrounding his writing of A Christmas Carol, despite how prevalent it still is even today. Plenty of interesting tidbits in this book -- I was especially interested in Dickens' experiences with copyright (or lack thereof), and his disappointing trip to America. While I enjoyed learning about his life in general, I do wish the book had had a bit more focus on A Christmas Carol itself, and the idea that it reignited (if ...more
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Received the book for Christmas (!) and saw the movie a few days later. The movie is thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining, accurately portraying Dickens's limitless energy; it makes allusive reference to his financial dealings with his publishers and with his despair at his father's improvident mooching; it is typically (for the movies) misleading about how writers write, and particularly about how Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol. The book is far more accurate than the movie, and in fact it is ...more
Read if your interest in the subject matter is high. If your interest is mild-middling just watch the movie. The book started out well, then I’d hit a boring patch and be about to quit when something interesting would come up. So I’d press on only to hit the doldrums again. And so on and so forth. Interesting parts included: history of Christmas celebration, Dickens life, bits of the publishing industry history. Uninteresting parts: reviews of Dickens speeches and other books, cataloging his ...more
Niki (nikilovestoread)
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
After reading and enjoying A Christmas Carol and Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva last month, I wanted to read a biography about Charles Dickens, specifically what his life was like at the time he wrote A Christmas Carol. This book was perfect for what I was looking to learn about Dickens. We get a brief history of what his life was like as a child and where he drew much of his inspiration for his writing. It was also interesting to learn what it was like publishing books back in the ...more
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
A book that is both interesting and boring, if that makes any sense. Some of the information about the creation of A Christmas Carol and how it popularized certain Christmas traditions really held my interest, while the more biographical elements on Dickens and his career simply did not.
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating look at the history behind much of Dickens's writing, in particularly a Christmas Carol. Also as a bonus, the historical recounting of Christmas celebrations and how they have evolved over he centuries in both Europe and North America was fascinating.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mostly fascinating book about Charles Dickens' composition of his famous CHRISTMAS CAROL. Very interesting parts about the publication world of his time, so very very different than ours....and that Dickens was not always a success and wrote fast and sometimes angrily against the ghost of bankruptcy which had thrown his father in jail and changed Charles at the age of ten from a middle class young scholar to a penniless factory boy, first awakening Dickens to the misery of the poor. The story of ...more
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you are a Dickens reader and have read one or more of the many biographies that cover the wonderful Boz then you might scoff at this book. Yes, it does cover some of the well-plowed fields of Dickensian study, and yes its style is turned down from the voices of academia and research but, pause a moment. What this little book does is give a good background and focus on how Christmas Victorian style came to be, and how its contents were able, in some way, to alter the course of our present day ...more
Nov 14, 2009 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not particularly engaging backstory of the beloved classic. The time probably would have been better spent re-reading "A Christmas Carol". Lots of information about Victorian publishing, though, if that's your thing.
Clay Davis
Nov 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I have read about the history of Christmas. I enjoyed the part of the book that was about how Charles Dickens wrote the great story A Christmas Carol. A must read for anybody who enjoys Christmas.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Man Who Invented Christmas, based on the book by Les Standiford

This is a charming film about a chapter in the life of the great, fascinating, radiant Charles Dickens

The audience is also invited to explore parts of the childhood of the genius writer, who has suffered so much.
His father John Dickens, the wondrous Jonathan Pryce in the picture, was sentenced to go to prison.

In the film, this is a dual character, with a number of shortcomings, including an inclination to profit from the fame of
Jul 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dickens Bio
Recommended to Jason by: Movie
To be clear, this is not a novelization of the movie of the same name or vice versa. The movie is partially based on some facts found in this book, but the book is more of a biography/informational thing with A Christmas Carol being the cotter pin.

"You know, Dickens made some great characters, but I'm afraid I wasn't one of them."

(And you win 20 internets for the day if you followed that chain.)

Anyway, reviews and the book summary made me aware of the aforementioned fact, so I went into it
Anna Mussmann
Jan 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Overall, this is an enjoyable, light-weight look at Dickens’ career as a writer. The glimpses into Victorian publishing were fascinating, and I’m glad to have a better grasp of the order and context in which Dickens wrote his various novels.

However! Standiford’s central thesis--that Dickens basically invented our modern notion of Christmas by providing us with a secular way to view the holiday, as well as by popularizing and establishing the customs by which we celebrate it--is not, I think,
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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 ...more
“The more a man learns, Dickens said, “the better, gentler, kinder man he must become. When he knows how much great minds have suffered for the truth in every age and time… he will become more tolerant of other men’s belief in all matters, and will incline more leniently to their sentiments when they chance to differ from his own.” 3 likes
“To Dickens, true charity was a matter of openhearted benevolence; to use the relief of poverty as a cudgel to beat a recipient into piousness was repellent and evil.” 0 likes
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