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Charles Dickens Couldn’t Stop Tinkering With A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol, published by Charles Dickens in 1843, was not his first best seller, and according to critics, it's not his best work (although critics still argue about which of his works is the best). But considering the holiday setting of A Christmas Carol and the many pop culture adaptations, it is probably his best known story today. The public loved the novella from the beginning, and Dickens devised a way to make more money from those who had already read the book.  

Dickens intuited that his devoted public would get a kick out of listening to him read from the already beloved text, and he spent decades taking his A Christmas Carol act on the road. He devised different voices and styles for each character, so Tiny Tim sounded nothing like Ebenezer Scrooge. Writers of the period commonly traveled to give lectures, but “reading from your own work was new, and his degree of literary celebrity took it into the stratosphere,” says Carolyn Vega, curator at the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library.

The author toured the English-speaking world with his readings of A Christmas Carol before packed venues until his death in 1870. Along the way, he constantly refined his public performance, editing and re-editing his book excerpts to please the audience. Read about how Dickens took his show on the road at Atlas Obscura.

J.R.R. Tolkien made revisions to The Lord of the Rings practically up to the end of his life and still didn't finish the job after nearly 20 years of continuous endeavor. The Hobbit, written by him over 80 years ago, is still an editorial mess.
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