How Dickens wrote

Are you tired of spoiled celebrities and nouveau riche wannabes behaving badly in the news? Yes, I know they’d fit right in with the Regency, but I’ve had enough. I can find better things to do online and I have just discovered some major timesucks that I hope you’ll enjoy too.

First, since we’re heading for Christmas, here’s a fabulous opportunity to take a look at Dickens’ editing process and enter a contest. The original manuscript of A Christmas Carol, owned by the Morgan Library and Museum, usually has one page at a time on display, but has entered into an agreement with the New York Times to photograph and display the entire manuscript, side by side with the final version, so you can compare the two.

City Blog is sponsoring a contest for readers to choose what they think is the most interesting edit and the winner will be invited to tea at the Morgan with blogger Alison Leigh Cowan (but you’ll have to get yourself up to NYC!). You can see the manuscript here.

Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in six weeks in 1843. He needed the cash, with six children and an expensive lifestyle to maintain, and his current serialized novel Martin Chuzzlewit was not selling well. The first printing of six thousand copies sold out, but Dickens made no money on it, having decided to splurge on hand-colored drawings by John Leech, a well-known illustrator.

If you’re planning a trip to the Morgan, there’s an exhibit A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy now through March 14, 2010 which includes manuscripts, personal letters, and related materials.

And back to Dickens–if you care to splurge on a Christmas present to yourself Sothebys is auctioning off a complete set of his Christmas books in original cloth bindings. I’ll be blogging tomorrow at History Hoydens about auctions of writers’ manuscripts and possessions, so I hope you’ll come on over and say hello.

Has anyone seen the Austen exhibit yet or visited any other museum recently? Tell us what you’ve seen! I’m planning to go to Written in Bone at the Natural History Museum in Washington DC this weekend. I visited the exhibit very briefly last summer but want to go back and linger over the bones.

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