During the twentieth century, A Christmas Carol was dramatized more often than any other Dickens story except Oliver Twist. However, before 1900 the Carol had been rarely staged compared to other works by Dickens. H. Philip Bolton, author of Dickens Dramatized, states that one reason A Christmas Carol was less popular on stage during the nineteenth century was due to a “victorian diffidence about staging sacred matters.” In fact, the Examiner of Plays censored from the stage both quotations of scripture, and unflattering depictions of ecclesiastical figures.
Nevertheless, in 1853 Dickens decided to embark on a career of giving public readings. The first reading he selected was from A Christmas Carol, and was given at Birmingham Town Hall on December 27th, 1853. This and two subsequent readings at Birmingham attracted a total of six thousand people. The new career was launched with great success and monetary gain.
Dickens then gave public readings throughout Britain, and in 1868 made a reading tour in America. Performances were largely in Boston and New York, but also throughout New England and as far south as Baltimore. Dickens visited with President Johnson, but when Dickens was to give a reading in Boston on February 24th, Johnson was impeached. Dickens was dismayed when the public furor over the impeachment resulted in empty seats for the first time during the reading tour. This booklet, entitled Charles Dickens’s Dramatic Readings As Read in America was published in 1892. The publisher, Lee & Shepard, issued ten of these dramatic readings. This copy is a reading of A Christmas Carol. On the back cover of this copy is an advertisement for “The Grand Dickens Cosmorama” by George B. Bartlett (a cosmorama was a series of stage processions and tableaux vivants).