Charles Webb’s play version of A Christmas Carol was an unofficial, pirated adaptation of Charles Dickens’s novel. This playbill, printed in blue ink, advertises its run at the New Strand Theatre in London, from 26–28 December 1844, a year after the novel’s publication. The bill’s introduction and synopsis of the play is written in dramatic and sensational language, the effect heightened by its choice of different fonts, punctuation and vocabulary. The playbill reveals that Webb’s version promised ‘superb and peculiar Mechanical Effects (never before achieved)’, ‘a moving diorama’ and music.
Webb’s version was popular, in large part due to the great success of the novel: whether an official or pirated adaptation, it seems the public simply couldn’t get enough of A Christmas Carol. As implied in the text of the playbill, most of the audience would already have read the novel, or at least been familiar with its scenes and characters.
- Full title:
- Original playbill in blue ink for the New Strand Theatre. Advertising [Charles Webb's adaptation] of A Christmas Carol. Dated December 26th-28th, 1844. [from the author's presentation copy of The Life of Dickens, 1872-74]
- 26-28 December 1844, London
- Advertisement / Ephemera / Playbill / Illustration / Image
- The New Strand Theatre, John Forster [compiler]
- Usage terms
- Public Domain
- Held by
- British Library
- Dex.316. - Vol II, part I
- Article by:
- Judith Flanders
- The middle classes, Popular culture
Judith Flanders describes how many of our own Christmas traditions – from trees and crackers to cards and carols – have their origins in 19th-century industrial and commercial interests.
- Article by:
- John Mullan
- The novel 1832–1880, London, The Gothic
The ghosts in A Christmas Carol are by turns comic, grotesque and allegorical. Professor John Mullan reflects on their essential role in developing the novel’s meaning and structure.