Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is one of the Yuletide's most beloved and celebrated tales. It's an old timey ghost story with all thrills, chills, and a bunch of real talk that has stood the test of time. But is A Christmas Carol a true story?
Well TBH, it's not based on anything in particular. However, the character of Ebenezer Scrooge and the dire straights of the poorest people living in the city of London at the time drew from real people and places.
Scrooge is believed to be based on two different men. The first potential origin story is a deceased merchant named Scroggie who was noted in Dickens' notebook as a sad and mean individual. According to BBC Arts, Dickens had the idea for the character after he misunderstood the merchant's gravestone during a jaunt around Edinburgh’s Canongate Kirkyard.
Another potential source for the character is the famously miserly John Elwes. According to the Telegraph, despite being enormously wealthy, Elwes relished living that skinflint life — rationing the likes of heating, candles, and even choosing the old fashioned equivalent of supermarket's yellow labelled food. Yep, the Telegraph reports that he even ate food that was going rotten.
Time reports that the tale's other characters, Tiny Tim and the rest of the Cratchit family are based on an issue that was very close to Dickens' heart. In his work he made no secret in his work of his feelings towards the poverty that was engulfing the lower classes in Victorian London and across the UK. According to the publication, he was horrified by not only the ridiculous hours and dangerous environments workers were expected to endure, but also the abuse of young children who were used for their cheap labour, with little or no regard for their safety and wellbeing.
According to Time, Dickens was heavily inspired by a collection of interviews with child workers that had been compiled by a journalist friend. He used A Christmas Carol to show the injustices experienced by the poorest in society compared to the more affluent, which might well be why the story still rings true today. Although a lot has changed, much remains the same.
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