Illuminated Manuscript of Dickens' A Christmas Carol

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Calligraphic manuscript of Charles Dickens's short novel A Christmas Carol, written and illuminated by the Manchester artist Alan Tabor for the publishers George G. Harrap & Co. of London, who published a facsimile edition of the manuscript in 1916.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Dickens’s short novel A Christmas Carol was first published in December 1843. It met with immediate critical acclaim, and the first edition sold out within days. A Christmas Carol has remained hugely popular ever since, and its main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, has become a byword for miserliness. However, like all good fairy tales, Dickens’s story has a happy ending. Confronted by the ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas yet to come, Scrooge sees the error of his ways, and he is filled with the Christmas spirit of kindness and generosity. The first edition of A Christmas Carol was illustrated by John Leech, and the book has been a favourite with illustrators ever since.

The Manchester artist Alan Lansdown Tabor (1883-1957) created this richly illuminated manuscript of A Christmas Carol, which was published in facsimile by George G. Harrap & Co. in 1916. Tabor, who was born in Bedminster, Somerset, established himself as a 'commercial and artistic designer' in Manchester in the early years of the 20th century (he first advertised in the Manchester Guardian in January 1908). He produced illuminated addresses and certificates from a studio in St Ann's Passage, moving to premises in Albert Square in around 1933. In 1937 he produced a loyal address from the City of Manchester upon the accession of George VI (Manchester Guardian, 4 March 1937, p. 13), and in 1943 he designed the scroll conferring the freedom of the city upon Winston Churchill (op. cit., 14 October 1943, p. 6). Tabor died on 28 September 1957.

Conditions Governing Access

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Presented to the John Rylands Library by Mrs F.C. Tabor, widow of Alan Tabor, in November 1958.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the manuscript can be supplied for private research and study purposes only, depending on the condition of the manuscript.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the manuscript. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Geographical Names