Press release - Yorkshire Dickens Festival hosts rare book

November, 2013

Visitors to Yorkshire’s biggest Dickens Festival this Christmas will have the exclusive opportunity to see an iconic edition of the author’s most loved book, A Christmas Carol.

The rare 1844 specially bound edition will be on public view at the Grassington Dickensian Festival on Saturday 30th November inside Grassington Museum.

The book was commissioned by Charles Dickens for the widow of his great friend, the Malton-based lawyer Charles Smithson, after his untimely death at the age of 39. There is a long-standing tradition that the office of Scrooge was based on Smithson’s office on Chancery Lane in the North Yorkshire market town and that various characters of Dickens were based upon residents of the area.

The book has been hidden from public view until last Christmas when broadcaster Selina Scott, Malton business man Stephen Joll, and Clair Challenor-Chadwick, MD of Harrogate’s specialist fundraising and marketing company, Cause UK, led the campaign to raise $43,750 in just four weeks to secure the book when it came up for auction in New York.

Many organisations and individuals backed the campaign including the Hon Simon Howard, Chairman of Castle Howard Estate, Malton CIC, local tourism attraction Flamingo Land<, The Malton Museums Trust, and the Malton Dickens Society.

Clair Challenor Chadwick, MD of Cause UK, said: "The book is currently housed at York University and this will be the first official outing since it arrived in Malton. It’s important as many people in Yorkshire get to see it, as it’s a remarkable legacy to one of the most seminal books in history. Dickens deserves to be part of Yorkshire’s literary heritage, just as the Brontes or Bram Stoker."

A Christmas Carol has been made into ten films and translated into sixty different languages, as well as inspiring a plethora of adaptations, such as Frank Capra’s, It’s a Wonderful Life.

Angela Jackson, organiser of the Grassington Dickensian Festival, said: "It’s a coup to have this authentic piece of heritage celebrated in Grassington at the biggest Dickens event of its kind, not only in Yorkshire but in the UK. Cultural tourism is vitally important for the lifeblood of rural economies like Malton and Grassington. It’s exciting, and important, that we build on Dickens’ legacy to attract tourists from all over the world."