One of my favorite Christmas pastimes is watching reruns of popular Christmas stories. This year with all the family activities taking

Copy of Sketch of Charles Dickens

Copy of Sketch of Charles Dickens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

place, I didn’t get a chance to watch any of them. However, a post on AWAI’s The Writer’s Life, a blog I subscribe to, set me thinking about the authors and what they had to go through to create and market these stories.

The first one that sent me digging for information was the perennial favorite, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  This manuscript, which was later to become a masterpiece, was first  intended to be a political paper championing the cause of the poor and their children. Dickens himself had suffered humiliating childhood poverty after his father was imprisoned for debt and Dickens, at the age of twelve, was forced to leave school and work in a shoe-blacking factory. Dickens later decided that a Christmas narrative would be the most effective way to awaken the population to his concerns about poverty and social injustice.

Dickens took six weeks to write the story and it was published on Dec. 19, 1843. The book received immediate critical acclaim in London, and the first run of 6000 copies sold out by Christmas Eve.  Initial reaction in America was not as enthusiastic, but the book later caught on after the New York Times published an enthusiastic review. Despite this, revenue from the self-published book was disappointing. Production costs ate into his profits, and to make matters worse, the book was later pirated in January 1844. Dickens sued and won, but the pirates, Parley‘s Illuminated Library, simply declared bankruptcy and Dickens was left to pay £700 in fees.

A Christmas Carol may not have been an economic success for the author, but it has impacted millions over the years and continues to do so today. So, which do you prefer – economic or artistic success?  This famous work by a beloved author proves that no matter how magnificent our writing, financial success is not guaranteed. Rather, we should always strive to produce our best, most heartfelt work and let God decide the outcome.



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