Dickens' "Christmas Stories" (not to be confused with "Christmas Books", which is a separate upload) is a collection of short stories, published in the Christmas edition of his weekly magazine Household Words
and its successor, All the Year Round
, between the years 1850 and 1867. As such, they belong to Dickens' maturity and middle age, and are very different to his youthful "Sketches by Boz".
The stories differ enormously in style, from lighthearted ghost stories to biting social commentary. A number of them were written in collaboration with Wilkie Collins (author of "The Moonstone", "The Woman in White", etc etc), an arrangement which Dickens found practical, but difficult to work with - his writing style did not fit naturally with the elaborate plots of which Collins was a master.
This is a book it's best to "dip into" rather than read from start to finish.
The stories contained herein are:
- A Christmas Tree
- What Christmas Is As We Grow Older
- The Poor Relation's Story
- The Child's Story
- The Schoolboy's Story
- Nobody's Story
- The Seven Poor Travellers
- The Holly-Tree
- The Wreck of the Golden Mary
- The Perils of Certain English Prisoners
- Going Into Society
- The Haunted House
- A Message From the Sea
- Tom Tiddle's Ground
- Somebody's Luggage
- Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings
- Mrs. Lirriper's Legacy
- Doctor Marigold
- Mugby Junction
- No Thoroughfare
Note that these are the original forms of the stories; one often finds excerpts from them published as "standalone" stories. Eg, "Mugby Junction" contains a very
famous ghost story called "The Signal-Man" which is often published on its own. and "Doctor Marigold" contains a similar story often published as "The Murder Trial".
The earlier stories in this volume are standalone short stories, but a word of explanation is required for the later ones, "The Wreck of the Golden Mary" onwards. In these, Dickens would establish a story "framework", write part of the story himself, and then invite other authors to contribute. Earlier editions of this book only contained the contributions made by Dickens himself; in this edition, however, I've tracked down the original publications (not at all easy to find, on occasions!) and included all
the contributions. You are thus now reading them as they would have been seen by the original readers, rather than just reading Dickens' contributions in isolation. In these cases, I've stated the names of the authors of each part of the story. The result of this is that the book has considerably increased in size from its earlier versions. These additions by other authors are well worth reading, including, as they do, some very notable authors, such as Wilkie Collins and Elizabeth Gaskell. I have also added the original illustrations, and removed the story "The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices"; this is not
a Christmas story, and will now be included in "Miscellaneous Papers".
As always, enjoy, and comments are welcome!
EDIT: 12 Dec 07
Reformatted to preserve dashes, etc. Uploaded v2.
EDIT: 15 Mar 08
Corrected a problem with paragraph breaks in the first six stories in the collection. Uploaded v3.
EDIT: 11 Jul 10
Total revision. Greatly expanded to include contributions by other authors to the later stories. Added all the original illustrations. Moved "The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices" to the volume "Miscellaneous Papers".
Previous download count: 172
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