A Christmas Carol

On Saturday November 30th 2013 the Museum played host to a rare book by Charles Dickens as is recounted below.

The Museum, Grassington & Charles Dickens

For many years Grassington hosted a Dickensian Festival over 2 weekends each December. Volunteers at the

Museum dressed in Dickensian costume, as did many others in the village establishments. The Museum offered

hot drinks and mince pies in front of a cosy fire in its 17th century kitchen. It has not proved possible to hold

Dickensian Festivals since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, but a Christmas Market will be held in December


On Saturday 30th November 2013 the Museum achieved something of a coup, when it had on display a rare 1844 specially bound signed edition of one of Dickens most popular novels ‘A Chrismas Carol’. The book had been bought at auction in New York the previous December and had been on display in the Library of the University of York for much of 2013.

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 had been hidden from public view until Christmas 2012 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 that 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.