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In late 1843, Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” as a holiday novel, expressly designed to make him some quick money. At the time, Dickens’ latest novel was a bomb; he owed money to his publisher and he really needed the dinero. He financed the book’s publication himself, pricing it at 5 shillings to make it affordable to the masses (talk about using self-publishing as a branding strategy!)

Dickens’ gut instinct was right: “A Christmas Carol” made him a lot of money. But something else happened along the way—the story of Ebenezer Scrooge became one of the most enduring pieces of literature in the English language, with characters that have been absorbed into the human vernacular and psyche.

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