The story of Scrooge, the wealthy miser whose temperament is transformed after a series of ghostly visitations, proved an instant and enduring critical and popular success for Charles Dickens (1812–1870). The book sold out immediately when it appeared just before Christmas 1843, and was frequently reprinted, turned into many stage plays, and even pirated.
This 1915 edition of A Christmas Carol has monochrome and colour pictures by Arthur Rackham (1867–1939), a leading book illustrator of the early 1900s, who provided images for a wide variety of classic titles. Some editions featuring his work were luxury items and sold, appropriately, as Christmas gifts.
Rackham’s boldly inked outlines and colour washes hint at the Japanese tradition of woodblock prints. In contrast to his talon-like hands counting money pre-visitation, the gaiety and good spirits of Scrooge after his conversion show that the image of the Dickensian Christmas was firmly established.