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In a case of art imitating life, Charles Dickens, (1812-1870) heavily in debt and obliged to his publisher, began working on the very well known short story A Christmas Carol in the fall of 1843. Its initial publication of 6,000 copies in December 1843 sold out in three days -- and has remained popular since.
Interestingly, the retelling of occult and other ghost stories, always in vogue during Victorian times, was especially popular during Christmas holiday. Dicken's own Christmas experiences with "Ghosts of Christmases Past" undoubtedly found their way into the telling of the tale in the guise of the three spirits (along with his deceased partner Jacob Marley) who affect his rehabilitation.
In the story Scrooge, solitary, miserly, and stingy, is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Each show him different aspects to the error of his ways, which finally transform him into an involved and generous individual. Specifically, he mends his relationship with his nephew Fred, improves the working conditions and increases the salary for his clerk Bob Cratchit’s, and addresses the health problems of Tiny Tim. Additionally, he donates heavily to the charitable organization "to provide meat and drink" to those in want during the Christmas Season, and continues his beneficial actions to the point that "It was always said of Scrooge, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge."
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