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Blue Ridge Books was established in 2007 and is Waynesville’s only independent bookstore specializing new books. We carry fiction, non-fiction, regional books, children’s books, a large selection of magazines and newspapers, and unique greeting cards. We are happy to special order books that we don’t have in stock at no additional cost. We enjoy hosting authors for weekend events. We also work with schools to supply students and teachers with their reading needs.
A Christmas Carol’ and the celebration of new ideas
Did Charles Dickens invent Christmas, as we know it today? The author himself would most likely not see it that way, but there’s no question that the appearance of A Christmas Carol in1843 coincided with the arrival in Victorian England of many of the modern traditions we celebrate.
At the time Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, Christmas wasn’t widely celebrated as a festive holiday. In both The Pickwick Papers and A Christmas Carol, Dickens’ descriptions of feasting, games and family unity helped tap into popular interest, just as new traditions were starting to emerge in England. In addition to the book’s release on December 19, 1843, the first commercial printing of Christmas cards occurred that year, and the German custom of the Christmas tree, introduced to England by Prince Albert following his marriage to Queen Victoria, was in its third year.
Charles Dickens loved to celebrate Christmas. His favorite time of the season was Twelfth Night, the feast of the Epiphany. He’s also been quoted as saying that “my father was always at his best at Christmas.” So, A Christmas Carol is surely meant to celebrate familyspirit and customs.
But the author had other reasons as well. Early in 1843, in response to a government report on the abuse of child laborers in mines and factories, Dickens vowed he would strike a “sledge-hammer blow . . . on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child.” A Christmas Carol is Dickens’ response to that report.He was not the first author to celebrate the Christmas season in literature,but he added a humanitarian vision of the holiday, an idea now known asDickens' "Carol Philosophy".
Dickens modeled the Cratchit family after his own home life. He lived in poor circumstances in a four-room house that he shared with his parents and five siblings. Dickens, who was the oldest boy, was often tasked with pawning the family’s goods when money was tight, much like Peter Cratchit. Like Dickens and many poor families, the Cratchits had nothing in which to roast meat. They relied on the ovens of a local baker, which were only available on Sundays and closed on Christmas day.
It only took Dickens about six weeks to write A Christmas Carol, and John Leech illustrated the first edition.Initially 6,000 copies of the book were printed and they all sold in five days. Here is some other noteworthy trivia about Dickens’ holiday masterpiece:
· A Christmas Carol was the most successful book of the 1843 holiday season. Its popularity continued into the next year, and eight stage productions adapted from it were underwaywithin two months.
· Dickens was involved in charities and social issues all of his entire life. He and many of his colleagues thought education could provide a way to a better life for these children, so they started the Ragged School movement, which created schools that provided free education for children in the inner city. The movement got its name from the way the children attending the school were dressed.
· In 1867, Dickens read A Christmas Carol at a public reading in Chicago. A scale manufacturer in attendance, named Mr. Fairbanks, was so moved that he decided to not only close his factory on Christmas day, but he gave Christmas turkeys to all of his employees.
A Christmas Carol is as popular today as it was when it debuted 150 years ago and the traditions it spawned are now commonplace. Through the voice of EbenezerScrooge, Charles Dickens still urges us to honor our families and traditions, and to continue his efforts to serve others less fortunate than us.
Here at Blue Ridge Books, we have a number of editions of A Christmas Carol available for holiday gift giving. It’s a great time to pick one up as a gift, or to start a tradition of reading it in your home.
Over the last several years, customers have suggested that we have a discount card that could be purchased. We finally took the hint and have started a Loyalty Club. You can join for only $15 a year which will give you 10% off all books, magazines, greeting cards, and gift purchases (excludes used books, newspapers, and food and beverage items). This 10% can be used on top of the 15% off bestsellers and other discounts that we offer. In addition, there will be special sales during the year ONLY for Loyalty Club members.