Dickens and Christmas (Paperback)
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Dickens and Christmas is an exploration of the 19th-century phenomenon that became the Christmas we know and love today – and of the writer who changed, forever, the ways in which it is celebrated. Charles Dickens was born in an age of great social change. He survived childhood poverty to become the most adored and influential man of his time. Throughout his life, he campaigned tirelessly for better social conditions, including by his most famous work, A Christmas Carol. He wrote this novella specifically to “strike a sledgehammer blow on behalf of the poor man’s child”, and it began the Victorians’ obsession with Christmas.
This new book, written by one of his direct descendants, explores not only Dickens’s most famous work, but also his all-too-often overlooked other Christmas novellas. It takes the readers through the seasonal short stories he wrote, for both adults and children, includes much-loved festive excerpts from his novels, uses contemporary newspaper clippings, and looks at Christmas writings by Dickens’ contemporaries. To give an even more personal insight, readers can discover how the Dickens family itself celebrated Christmas, through the eyes of Dickens’s unfinished autobiography, family letters, and his children’s memoirs.
In Victorian Britain, the celebration of Christmas lasted for 12 days, ending on 6 January, or Twelfth Night. Through Dickens and Christmas, readers will come to know what it would have been like to celebrate Christmas in 1812, the year in which Dickens was born. They will journey through the Christmases Dickens enjoyed as a child and a young adult, through to the ways in which he and his family celebrated the festive season at the height of his fame. It also explores the ways in which his works have gone on to influence how the festive season is celebrated around the globe.
This year my view of Christmas changed yet again – not because of the pandemic, but as a result of reading Dickens and Christmas by Lucinda Hawksley, one of his great-great-great grandchildren. I discovered that Dickens wrote many more Christmas stories, but none of them could hold a candle to 'The Carol', as Dickens himself called it.Lost Cousins
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As featured on the Royal Reviewer VlogRoyal Reviewer
The book that makes great use of the testimonies of friends and relatives gives us a Dickens unknown to most, which deserves to be rediscovered. Dickens bequeathed his many literary works to the world, still full of panache and current messages, first of all "A Christmas Carol", eternal story about the meaning of life and Christmas. Rediscovering his history makes us connect with him 150 years after his death (anniversary which will occur in 2020), an excellent reason to read this magnificent book.Old Barbed Wire Blog
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I have reviewed this brilliant title before, but it's always good to refer back to it to see just how instrumental in creating the Christmases we know and love today Charles Dickens was. It will soon be time for me to dig out my precious copy of A Christmas Carol, illustrated by the great Arthur Rackham, because Dickens, above any other author, is the one I associate with Christmas. Lucinda's book reveals the facts about Dickens and Christmas - it's a very readable book, a slice of social history involving a man who, more than anyone, encapsulates Christmas in literature.Books Monthly
Listed in 'Christmas Books' featureChurch Times, 29th November 2019
The great great great grand-daughter of the famous writer describes what it would have been like to celebrate Christmas in 1812, the year in which Dickens was born. She takes the reader on a journey through the Christmases Dickens enjoyed as a child and a young adult, through to the ways in which he and his family celebrated the festive season at the height of his fame. Dickens and Christmas is an engaging exploration of the 19th-century phenomenon that became the Christmas we know and love today and of the writer who changed, forever, the ways in which it is celebrated.Julian Stockwin Blog
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This is a book for lovers of Christmas, for people interested in the Victorian period and its traditions, for people who want to learn more about Dickens, and it will be of particular interest to writers who want to learn more about what writing was like at the time. I loved the fragments of Dickens’s stories that exemplify why he continues to be love, valued and appreciated. A fabulous gift, for you or for those you love.Author Translator, Olga Nunez Miret
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As featured byAntiques Diary, January/February 2020
Dickens was a huge influence on making Christmas cool again in Victorian England, and now the great-great-great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens himself has written a book about it. Dickens and Christmas takes a look at what Christmas would have been like for little Charlie growing up, and at the impact his multiple Christmas novellas had on the culture of celebration as a whole.Bustle
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Hawksley, a distant relative of Dickens, is in the prime position to write about him. She has written an interesting and entertaining book that does not have to be enjoyed only at the festive period, but all year around.For the Love of Books
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Full review-A Writer's Blog, July 2019
A Writer's Blog
An insight into how Christmas was celebrated throughout the 19th Century and how the writings of Dickens have influenced how Christmas is celebrated today around the world.Essex Family History Society
A great book to read during Christmas time. Packed full of information and details for Dickens fans. Christmas is Dickens as much as Dickens is Christmas.NetGalley, reviewed by Melissa Searles
A Christmas Carol has been a been a part of my life since I was small. I never knew it was a book, until I was much older, for years it was the movie that my Dad watched over and over during the lead up to Christmas. For me, Charles Dickens will always be a part of Christmas, and multiple versions of A Christmas Carol still show up on my television to this day. However, I had no clue just how much the story influenced how we celebrate the holiday. Until this short little novel came to be, Christmas was a much different creature in England and definitely in the United States. This book gives you some of that background and you'll likely be shocked at just what Dickens and his work influenced in how you celebrate today. I want a copy of this for my history shelves, I just wish it had been longer.NetGalley, reviewed by Diana Thomas
This is a fascinating historical document, quite apart from what it tells us about Dickens and his family, as Hawksley uses articles from the day, excerpts from Dickens’ work, and reviews of his work to give a great authenticity to this study.On: Yorkshire magazine - reviewed by Karl Hornsey
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As featured inInternational Express 20/12/17
If you enjoy the Christmas holidays and history, regardless of whether or not you are religious, this is a wonderful book!Michelle McMenamin, GoodReads
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Written in a charming, ingenuous style. It's informative, probably designed to be a Christmas present as well as a light, enjoyable read, as it features Dickens quotations decoratively framed. It's full of information and pleasantly clearThe Tablet, 23/30 December 2017
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, reviewed by Kathryn Parry
Reading about the author of such iconic stories is a must for any fan. The history behind the stories and his life as well, the beginning of Christmas as we know of it, is a fascinating insight of life in Victorian England at the time.
A very good overview of Dickens in terms of bio and contemporary goings-on during his writing of his Xmas tales. Unlike many books, its focus lies on ALL of his Christmas stories, not just A Christmas Carol, so it provides a broader depth and introspection on what Dickens attempted to do with his fictions both at that moment of writing/publishing but also over the course of his career/lifetime. Excellent read.NetGalley, reviewed by Steven Schend
As mentioned inIslington Tribune
As mentioned inCamden New Journal
I enjoyed this book it was well written and a joy to read. The authors gives insight to the subject matter that I felt was compelling and would recommend this book to a friend.NetGalley, reviewed by Dale Dewitt
Lucinda Hawksley presents the reader with the social history of Christmas along side the personal history of Charles Dickens. The book explains where many of our modern festive traditions originated from and we also learn where Dickens' inspiration for many of his festive tales came from too. This book would make an ideal Christmas gift for a loved one who loves Christmas and Charles Dickens.NetGalley, reviewed by S Ballinger
As featured in.Daily Express 2/12/17
As featured inDaily Mirror 30/11/17
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, reviewed by Alessandro Mana
There is much here to take forward and keep in our hearts - traditions born in the Victorian era when, thanks to Dickens and Prince Albert's German influence, Christmas was more fashionable than it had ever been still resonate today. But perhaps the most important thing the reader can take from Dickens and Christmas is the message Dickens himself conveyed in his festive writings - one which is incredibly timely and has never been more urgent. And that is simply to think of those less fortunate than ourselves - all year, not just at Christmas.NetGalley, reviewed by Ophelia Sings
A beautifully presented book in hardback with a dust cover. This book reminds us what an influence the man, Charles Dickens was on the Christmas period...Love of Books
Hawksley, a distant relative of Dickens is in the prime position to write about him. She has written an interesting and entertaining book that does not have to be enjoyed only at the festive period, but all year around.
Read the complete review here.
Now we couldn't celebrate Christmas without Charles Dickens, could we? Lucinda Hawksley, a direct descendant of Charles and Catherine Dickens, thankfully thinks not and has penned this timely exploration of the 19th-century phenomenon that became the Christmas we know and love today - and her 3x great-grandfather's influence on how it is celebrated across the globe.Family Tree, January 2018
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, reviewed by Julie Wyant
I knew I was going to love this book before I even started reading. And I wasn't disappointed.
This book is a wonderful mix of information about Dickens' life, Christmas traditions in his lifetime, and impressions of the holiday from his personal writings and novels. It also includes snippets from newspaper articles from the time, biographical information from family letters and his daughter's book. Everything from Twelfth Night cakes to house parties. :) I understand much more about how Dickens' rough childhood, his life experiences and his anger at how the poor were treated colored his writing, but yet made him love the Christmas season. And he made others love it, too.
Wonderful book!! Well-written, interesting and enjoyable to read! I loved how the book didn't focus only on A Christmas Carol but also included his Christmas stories and mentions of the holiday season from his other books as well. Quotes from his personal correspondence, diaries and family writings were wonderful to read. I didn't realize his daughter wrote a biography of her father in the late 1800s. I need to find a copy of that book, or a scan online, and read it. :)
I read an advance copy for this review, but I will be buying a copy for my keeper shelf. Beautiful book!
I enjoyed reading about how the family celebrated Christmas and how Christmas celebrations changed over the years, but it was also sad how Dickens' bright youthfulness turned sour and his family life collapsed. The book is liberally illustrated with period etchings and woodcuts.NetGalley, reviewed by Linda Young
Hawksley tells Dickens's story in calm prose, and doesn’t spare him from examination. His childhood poverty, his perpetual money problems (most of them created by his large family), his marital problems, are all examined. I found it a very interesting look into his life. I also liked that the author related how the celebration of Christmas was changing, due both to the Industrial Revolution and Prince Albert’s bringing German customs over to England. Hawksley weaves all the strands together well.NetGalley, reviewed by Laurie Brown
It's packed full of interesting information about Charles Dickens. The history and traditions of the time are brought to life through writings and letters and quotes. We not only get an insight into the times and history but also into the man himself (his social reform leanings) and how his writings (especially the Christmas ones) had a profound effect on how the nation thought about Christmas. This was just a fascinating and educational read and a perfect gift for any Charles Dickens fan. Two thumbs up from yours truly.NetGalley, reviewed by Eve Recinella
Absolutely lovely; impeccable in its research, and wonderfully warming to read.NetGalley, reviewed by Kirsty H
The author is a descendant of Charles Dickens which lends a special touch. This all culminated in telling a life story of an iconic British author and his impact on Christmas celebrations in England and around the world.NetGalley, reviewed by Joanne Manuel
As a longtime lover of both Dickens and Christmas, there couldn't have been a better book than this tailor-made to my interests! I love the framework of the evolution of Christmas through Dickens own personal Christmases - from childhood through to his last. I already had a good background knowledge of Dickens as a person, so the family dynamics the author delves into (Mamie Dicken's writings, Dicken's letters to friends) weren't new, but will add an interesting context for people who haven't read into that story before.NetGalley, reviewed by Alison Gilchrist
A side effect of finishing this book was finding myself getting REALLY excited for this coming Christmas - all the historical info about Twelfth Cakes and decorations and games and food really made me start to anticipate my own celebrations this year! I think it would be interesting to try out some of the older English traditions discussed in this book, and have already started putting the feelers out for more books on the subject!
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, reviewed by Nancy A. Bekofske
Hawksley draws from writings by family members, letters, and the Christmas texts to create a vivid portrait of Dickens as family man, writer, and social reformer.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, reviewed by Michelle Kidwell
I found Dickens at Christmas to both be entertaining and educational.
The book boasts some nice illustrations and the author deserves credit for drawing attention to Dickens’s social critique which can too easily be lost in modern-day renderings of Scrooge’s personal redemption.NetGalley, reviewed by John Plowright