A Christmas Rewrite, as Dickens Edits Dickens

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Examine high resolution images of Dickens’s manuscript for yourself and discover additions and deletions he made to “A Christmas Carol” before sending it to the printer.


It is an enduring mystery of English literature: What secrets lie entombed beneath the thick scribbles that Charles Dickens made as he wrote, and rewrote, the 66 pages of “A Christmas Carol” in 1843?

The manuscript of this classic holiday ghost story, written in six weeks to raise much-needed cash, is housed at the Morgan Library and Museum in Manhattan, where it bears all of Dickens’s additions and subtractions in his own hand.

On page 3, he inserts “his eyes sparkled” to amplify the portrait of Scrooge’s nephew, whose beneficence is crucial to the plot.

On page 12, where Scrooge takes Marley’s ghost to be evidence not of the supernatural, but of his own indigestion, (“more of gravy than of grave,”) he converts the offending bit of food from being a “spot of mustard” to a less digestible “blot of mustard.”...

The manuscript is exhibited each holiday season at the Morgan, but as a matter of expedience, only one page is put on view each year, under glass, in the sumptuous former library of the financier John Pierpont Morgan.

This year, however, the Morgan agreed to allow The New York Times to photograph and display the entire handwritten manuscript online.

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