I am currently revising for my main exams and I'm not too sure on why Dickens wrote the novella. I know he wanted the poverty of children and families to change but how could I write this for a exam?


1 Answer 1


Dickens had a variety of motivations in writing A Christmas Carol.

  • Financial. Dickens earned a living as an author, and sales of his previous novel, Martin Chuzzlewit, were slowing. As a result, his publishers were threatening to reduce his income. At the same time, his wife was expecting a fifth child so his expenses were due to increase. He needed to write something popular simply because he needed the income.

  • Social. Prior to the Victorian era when Dickens lived, Christmas celebrations were largely religious in nature. During his life celebrations, as we know them today with a tree, cards and presents, were becoming more popular. A tale promoting these themes thus seemed likely to find a ready audience. Christmas also held a strong interest for Dickens and he had written stories with a Yuletide theme before such as A Christmas Dinner and the inclusion of a Christmas episode in The Pickwick Papers.

  • Political. The plight of the poor was a long-standing theme in Dickens' prior work, since his own childhood had been touched by poverty following his father's imprisonment as a debtor. Events in 1843 before he started work on A Christmas Carol brought these feelings to the fore. He witnessed child labour and the suffering it caused in both Cornwall and London. A Parliamentary report, the Second Report of the Children's Employment Commission was published on the subject. Dickens wanted to respond to this with a pamphlet of his own but felt a moving Christmas narrative would reach a wider audience, and prove more moving than a polemic essay.

- Kelly, Richard Michael (2003). "Introduction". In Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol.
- Callow, Simon (2009). Dickens' Christmas: A Victorian Celebration.

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