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A Christmas Carol 'brought little joy to Dickens'

23rd December 2009

Charles Dickens saw little financial reward after he wrote A Christmas Carol, despite the tale's immediate popularity.

Jon Michael Varese, a research assistant at The Dickens Project, wrote in the Guardian that the book's original print run of 6,000 copies sold out in around two weeks, but the author's demand for a lavish format left little profit.

Dickens insisted that A Christmas Carol should make a good gift and originally stipulated a fancy binding, lettering on the front cover and spine, gilded paper edges and bright red and green title pages.

'For Dickens, there was a great deal of excitement and celebration over the arrival of his elaborate new work. The excitement, however, was soon to be checked,' Varese added.

The author disliked the preliminary copies of the book and ordered a number of changes to be made two days ahead of release, but still expected to make a healthy profit of GBP 1,000.

However, when the royalties were sent through from his publisher, Dickens only received GBP 137 after deductions. A year later, and after sales of 15,000, the writer had still only made GBP 726 from the book.

Earlier this month, an ivory and gold toothpick once owned by the writer proved to be substantially more profitable when it was auctioned for GBP 5,670.

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