Hear Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Read by His Great-Granddaughter, Monica

In Eng­lish-speak­ing coun­tries where Christ­mas is cel­e­brat­ed, A Christ­mas Car­ol, Charles Dick­ens’ sec­u­lar Vic­to­ri­an tale of a Grinch restored to hol­i­day cheer, usu­al­ly plays some part.

How many chil­dren have been trau­ma­tized by Marley’s Ghost in the annu­al rebroad­cast of the half hour, 1971 ani­mat­ed ver­sion, fea­tur­ing the voic­es of Alis­tair Sim and Michael Red­grave as Scrooge and Bob Cratchit?

Per­son­al­ly, I lived in mor­tal fear of the cowled Ghost of Christ­mas Yet to Come from Scrooge, a movie musi­cal ver­sion star­ring Albert Finney.

Adap­ta­tions have been built around every­one from the Mup­pets to Bill Mur­ray.

And in some lucky fam­i­lies, an old­er rel­a­tive with a flair for the the­atri­cal reads the sto­ry aloud, prefer­ably on the actu­al day.

It’s a tra­di­tion that Charles Dick­ens him­self observed. It must’ve been a very pic­turesque scene, with his wife and all ten of their chil­dren gath­ered around. (Pre­sum­ably his mis­tress was not includ­ed in the fes­tiv­i­ties).

Even­tu­al­ly, the torch was passed to the next gen­er­a­tion, who mim­ic­ked and pre­served the cadences favored by the mas­ter.

Dick­ens great-grand­daugh­ter, nov­el­ist Mon­i­ca Dick­ens, who nar­rat­ed a con­densed ver­sion of the clas­sic tale in 1984, above, was schooled in the fam­i­ly inter­pre­ta­tion by her grand­fa­ther, Hen­ry Field­ing Dick­ens, who said of his famous father:

I remem­ber him as being at his best either at Christ­mas time or at oth­er times when Gad’s Hill was full of guests, for he loved social inter­course and was a per­fect host. At such times he rose to the very height of the occa­sion, and it is quite impos­si­ble to express in words his genial­i­ty and bril­lian­cy amid a bril­liant cir­cle.

Before the read­ing, Ms. Dick­ens shares some charm­ing anec­dotes about the orig­i­nal pub­li­ca­tion, but those with lim­it­ed time and/or a Scrooge-like aver­sion to jol­ly intros can skip ahead to 7:59, when Big Ben chimes to sig­nal the start of the sto­ry prop­er.

Her read­ing orig­i­nal­ly aired on Cape Cod’s radio sta­tion, 99.9 the Q. The read­ing will be added to our col­lec­tion, 1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Charles Dick­ens’ Hand-Edit­ed Copy of His Clas­sic Hol­i­day Tale, A Christ­mas Car­ol

A Christ­mas Car­ol, A Vin­tage Radio Broad­cast by Orson Welles and Lionel Bar­ry­more (1939)

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (3)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Windsor Viney says:

    Alas­tair Sim (not Alis­tair — a very com­mon mis­spelling of his name).


  • Riley's Farm says:

    FYI, the con­clu­sion of the sto­ry is not present in the record­ing, so lis­ten­ers will be left hang­ing.

  • Susan Burgardt says:

    Who was the rel­a­tive (male) that came to Min­neapo­lis, MN to do a read­ing of the Christ­mas Car­ol? It was at Christ­mas time and believe at a lun­cheon. He was there because there were more realives in the city and he was there also for a vis­it with them. The read­ing was done at the down­town Min­neapo­lis Dayton’s. Thank you twice….if you remem­ber and also your rel­a­tive was WONDERFUL!!!!!


Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.