If you devoured the works of Dickens with an eye on the seasons, you wouldn’t necessarily single out a festive theme. The Old Curiosity Shop opens with the narrator describing early morning summer roaming through fields and lanes; the journey that begins The Pickwick Papers starts quite specifically at sunrise on 13 May; Dickens’s Night Walks describe his insomnia-induced roaming of London in damp March.
Yet it is Christmas that has partly defined Dickens, not least because many believe he invented our modern idea of the festive season, whether depicting the gleaming shop windows, piles of food and notions of charity and goodwill, or inflicting a ghostly tale on readers on a wintry night.
This handsome Vintage Classics edition (price £15.00) is a perfect festive treat, including ‘The Christmas Books’ – A Christmas Carol, The Chimes and The Haunted Man and The Ghost’s Bargain – as well as several other seasonal tales. It begins with The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton, a magical, creepy tale originally published as part of The Pickwick Papers in serial form.