The holiday season has finally passed, and I guarantee most of us read or watched some kind of iteration of A Christmas Carol. Could you imagine actually going to hear Charles Dickens do a reading of the novella himself? On December 2, 1867 Dickens himself, on an American book tour, stopped in Boston to read his famous work. Below is an article that appeared the next day in the New York Times:
MR. CHARLES DICKENS
His First Reading in Boston – A Cordial Welcome and a Complete Success.
Special Dispatch to the New-York Times.
Boston, Monday, Dec. 2
Mr. Charles Dickens’ first appearance in America as a reader was the great event here this evening. Tremont Temple, one of the largest halls in the city, was filled in every available part by perhaps one of the most appreciative, fashionable, and brilliant audiences ever assembled in New-England. At an early hour, the fortunate holders of the prized tickets of admission flocked into the hall, and before the appointed hour of 8 o’clock, every seat and the side aisles were occupied. The excellent police arrangement prevented any confusion or disturbance attendant upon the grand rush into the hall.
The same paraphernalia used by Mr. Dickens in England upon the platform, to throw artificial light upon the speaker and his notes, were used on this occasion.
A few minutes after 8 o’clock, the distinguished novelist appeared, unaccompanied, upon the platform. He was greeted with clapping of hands, vociferous cheers and shouts of “Welcome” and other enthusiastic manifestation of warm appreciation. The welcome was a most cordial one, and it came from the élite of the city and vicinity. Mr. Dickens bowed his acknowledgments modestly.
After silence was restored Mr. Dickens proceeded to read his “Christmas Carol,” which occupied about one hour and a half. The novelist did not confine himself to the printed page, but rather spoke from memory. During the rendering of this reading his audience was completely spell-bound, so happily and so true to nature did he acquit himself in all its parts. His wonderful power of delineation, versatility of voice and power of gesture excited the admiration of all. The reading of the “Trial” from Pickwick, convulsed the audience with laughter throughout its entirety. It may seem superfluous to add that the audience went away declaring that never before had they experienced so rich a literary treat as was presented on this occasion. It would be pardonable in Mr. Dickens if he should feel highly flattered with the very cordial and hearty reception which he received this evening.