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Beautiful Books: Dickens and the Business of Christmas
The Charles Dickens Museum’s new exhibition Beautiful Books: Dickens and the Business of Christmas charts the birth of the modern idea of Christmas against a backdrop of significant change in British Society.
Throughout his writing life, Dickens was very sensitive to the needs of his audience and the growing literary marketplace. This sensitivity enabled him to take a leading role in the newly emerging Christmas publishing market starting with A Christmas Carol in 1843. Dickens’s Christmas books still shape and colour the festival in ways that we recognise today.
Dickens cornered the Christmas publishing market from the 1840s but later in his career, he began to distance himself from what had become an annual flood of festive books, stories and stocking fillers. 'I am sick of the thing' he confessed to a friend in 1868. Christmas, however, went on regardless.
A range of treasures will be on display such as Dickens’s manuscripts and original illustrations for his Christmas stories, the first ever Christmas card designed by Henry Cole in 1843 and beautifully bound jewel-studded books by Sangorski and Suttcliffe.
This exhibition is in partnership with Maggs Bros, Antiquarian Booksellers and with special thanks to guest co-curator Professor Simon Eliot. We are also grateful to Brick Row Bookshop, San Francisco, California and St Bride Library, London for generous loans for the exhibition.