Charles Dickens’ Christmas Stories

A Christmas Carol is, without a doubt, Charles Dickens‘ most renowned work. This beloved classic is a centerpiece of the holiday season, a story that has been told in many forms thanks to numerous adaptations, some of which are recognized as classics of season in their own right.

That first edition, released on December 19, 1843, sold out almost immediately. His influence and staying power became visible quickly. A nineteenth-century Boston factory owner granted his workers a day off and distributed complimentary turkeys after reading the tale. The story also sparked the establishment of a welfare campaign, focusing on providing “Tiny Tim” cots to underprivileged children. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt incorporated the story into his family’s winter traditions and Princess Maud of England made it an annual tradition to read A Christmas Carol to her family during the reign of King Edward VII.

That said, A Christmas Carol is not Dicken’s only Christmas story. After finding success with it, the Victorian author continued to explore the holiday spirit and penned dozens of Christmas stories in the twenty-five years that followed its publication, including four more Christmas Books…

Dear Reader, the following selection only contains stories in the public domain. I offer links where you can read or download the story online, but they are available on other sites, libraries, and bookshops!

Charles Dickens’s Christmas Books

If A Christmas Carol is Dickens’ more famous work today, it is not his only book for the holiday season, as the writer published four more books afterward.

A Christmas Carol (Christmas 1843)

A Christmas Carol stands as one of the most renowned and influential Christmas tales. It’s the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a cold-hearted miser with a disdain for Christmas, who is confronted, one But in one cold, chilling Christmas Eve, to his past, present, and future through the appearance of three haunting guests. They are here to make him recognize that the moment for him to amend his miserly demeanor has arrived—before it’s too late.

The Chimes (Christmas 1844)

Published during Christmas in 1844, The Chimes can be considered a counterpart to ‘A Christmas Carol,‘ tailored for the New Year. The story revolves around the disillusionment of Toby “Trotty” Veck, a poor working-class man. When Trotty has lost his faith in Humanity, attributing his poverty to his perceived unworthiness, he is visited on New Year’s Eve by spirits to help restore his faith and show him that inherent goodness prevails within individuals and that crime and poverty are things created by man.

The Chimes by Charles Dickens, illustrated by Daniel Maclise – Source

The Cricket on the Hearth (Christmas 1845)

A huge commercial success in his time, The Cricket on the Hearth has been described by Dickens himself as a “quiet and domestic […] innocent and pretty” novel. The tale is centered around the lives of the Peerybingle family. In their house, a cricket constantly chips, and acts as their guardian angel. Then, one day, a mysterious, elderly stranger takes lodge with the family for a few days.

The Battle of Life (Christmas 1846)

It takes place in the picturesque English countryside that stands on the site of a historic battle. Grace and Marion are two sisters on a journey toward happiness that is unexpectedly fraught with challenges and heartbreak. As hidden truths emerge and the strength of their connections is put to the test, they find themselves confronting inner struggles. In navigating these complexities, they are compelled to make challenging decisions that will significantly influence the paths they choose for their futures.

The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain (Christmas 1848)

The fifth and last of Dickens’s Christmas books, it is a story about the spirit of Christmas. It centers around a man named Redlaw, a chemistry professor as he dwells on his past sorrows and mistakes. Redlaw is visited by a ghostly figure who offers him a bargain: the ability to forget all the painful memories and sorrows of his past. However, the consequences of accepting such a bargain swiftly manifest, revealing the hidden price attached to the pursuit of forgetfulness.

Charles Dickens’s Christmas stories in Household Words/All The Year Round


Following the publication of his five standalone Christmas books, Dickens adopted a new approach to holiday storytelling. He started writing and editing special Christmas-themed editions of Household Words, a twopenny journal he launched in 1850. Collaborating with writers such as Wilkie Collins and Elizabeth Gaskell, Dickens, in his dual role as author and editor, delved into Christmas themes with those stories, exploring the solace of cherished memories, the significance of traditions and rituals, the irreplaceable presence of family and friends, and the transformative power of generosity and goodwill.

When Dickens had to abandon Household Words due to differences with his publisher, he founded in 1859 All the Year Round, a direct successor to his previous publication. He continued to publish Christmas stories in this new periodical.

Although not explicitly centered around Christmas, these stories are reminiscent of tales shared among companions by a Christmas fire.

The following stories have been collected in Some Christmas Stories (1868):

“A Christmas Tree” – essay published in the Christmas Number of Household Words, 185
“What Christmas is, as We Grow Older” – essay published in the Christmas Number of Household Words, 1851.
“The Poor Relation’s Story” – part of A Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire, in the Christmas Number of Household Words, 1852.
“The Child’s Story” (1852) – part of A Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire, in the Christmas Number of Household Words, 1852.
“The Schoolboy’s Story” – part of Another Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire, in the Christmas Number for Household Words, 1853.
“Nobody’s Story” – part of Another Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire, in the Christmas Number for Household Words, 1853.

*

The Seven Poor Travellers – in the Christmas Number for Household Words, 1854.
The Holly-tree Inn – in the Christmas Number for Household Words, 1855.
The Wreck of the Golden Mary – in the Christmas Number for Household Words, 1856.
The Perils of Certain English Prisoners – in the Christmas Number for Household Words, 1857.
“Going into Society” – part of A House to Let, in the Christmas Number for Household Words, 1858.
The Haunted House – in the Christmas Number for All the Year Round, 1859.
A Message from the Sea – in the Christmas Number for All the Year Round, 1860.
Tom Tiddler’s Ground – in the Christmas Number for All the Year Round, 1861.
Somebody’s Luggage – in the Christmas Number for All the Year Round, 1862.
Mrs. Lirriper’s Lodgings – in the Christmas Number for All the Year Round, 1863.
Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy – in the Christmas Number for All the Year Round, 1864.
Doctor Marigold’s Prescriptions – in the Christmas Number for All the Year Round, 1865.
Mugby Junction – in the Christmas Number for All the Year Round, 1866
No Thoroughfare – in the Christmas Number for All the Year Round, 1867.

A few notes:

Three Ghost Stories is a collection of short stories containing The Signal-Man (first published as part of the Mugby Junction), The Haunted House, and The Trial for Murder (first published as part of Doctor Marigold’s Prescriptions under the title To be taken with a Grain of Salt).

If you want to explore the archives or Household Words or All the Year Round, you’ll find a good listing here.