Tag Archives: christmas

The “Dickens Invented Christmas” myth

The following very interesting remark came across the Dickens mailing list this morning. I reproduce it in full, since I can’t state it more clearly than Patrick did:

Friends of the Dickens Forum:

We never cease marveling at the perennial, widespread popularity
of Dickens, and–the point here–the variety and uncritical means people
find to connect themselves, even profit by, the popularity. We were taken
aback this morning by an item passed on to us by Harry Moskovitz, an
assiduous Dickensian. Here is the notice:
The Man Who Invented Christmas, Being The True Story of How Charles
Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday

Author Les Standiford will speak about his new book, The Man Who Invented
Christmas, Being The True Story of How Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”
Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits. Publishers Weekly
“Standiford (The Last Train to Paradise) covers an impressive amount of
ground, from the theological underpinnings of Christmas to Dickens’s
rocky relations with America, evolving copyright laws and an explanation
of how A Christmas Carol became responsible for the slaughter of more
turkeys than geese in the months of November and December.”

Host: _Henry Flagler Museum_ (http://www.flaglermuseum.com/)

Standiford, we learn elsewhere, is best known as a mystery
writer, now alert to what the public will read about Dickens. In this
instance he has pounced upon the often stated journalistic claim that
Dickens invented Christmas.

That David Parker published an excellent study of the claim in
2005, refuting it thoroughly, must be the inconvenient fact that
Standiford would ignore. Parker’s fine book is _Christmas and Charles
Dickens_, published by AMS press and reviewed, with a measured quality of
scholarly competence, in the _Dickens Quarterly_ of September, 2006 .

The review may be read on the web by asking Google to find “David
Parker and Dickens.”

Your editor,

Patrick McCarthy
Emeritus, UC Santa Barbara

Unfortunately, as later noted on the list, Parker’s book “Christmas and Charles Dickens” is hard to come by, and tends to cost around $150. But if you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas for me …