Dickens’s novella has become a festive staple but it was intended as a polemic about the treatment of the poor

‘I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea,” begins Charles Dickens in the preface to the 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. It is a story so inescapable in British culture that nearly everyone knows about miserly Ebenezer Scrooge learning the value of compassion and kindness after being visited by three ghosts in the early hours of Christmas morning.

As well as the popular film adaptations that unfailingly appear on TV over the festive season, stage productions this year include a Jack Thorne adaptation starring Stephen Mangan at the Old Vic, a Mark Gatiss version at the Nottingham Playhouse and an adaptation at the Sherman theatre in Cardiff set in Wales and with a gender-swapped Scrooge.

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