Although A Christmas Carol was published in London by Chapman and Hall on 19 December 1843 just in time to capture the burgeoning Christmas book trade, another first edition of the same book, albeit without most of Leech's celebrated illustrations, was published at about the same time (or perhaps even somewhat earlier that same month) as the result of a recently negotiated understanding between the Baron Christian Bernard Tauchnitz in Leipzig and the author:

Tauchnitz edition. DICKENS, Charles. A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. With a Coloured Etching. Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1843.

Dickens had early proofs of his new works sent to Tauchnitz, and this edition was advertised in Germany on December 8, 1843 as appearing "later this month, simultaneously with the London edition." In fact, [bibliographers] Todd and Bowden state that the Tauchnitz printing could have proceeded the Chapman and Hall edition by several days. ["ABE Books."]

Page: 14.9 cm (height) by 10 cm (width). Frontispiece, "Marley's Ghost": 9.9 cm (height) by 8.5 cm (width)

A Christmas Carol in Prose: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. With a coloured Etching. By Charles Dickens Edition Sanctioned By The Author. Leipzig : Tauchnitz, 1843 [5] Bl., 78 S., [1] Bl.: 1 Ill.; 8° "Collection of British Authors," Leipzig Bernh. Tauchnitz Jun. — Im Kolophon: Printed By Bernh. Tauchnitz Jun.

This edition of the Carol is volume 91 of Baron Tauchnitz's "Collection of British Authors," started in 1841 and designed for purchase by English-speaking travellers on the Continent. According to Paul Davis in Charles Dickens A to Z, Baron Tauchnitz ("A publisher who had Dickens's whole and constant trust," as Sadrin remarks) customarily paid a British or American contributing author fifty pounds in lieu of royalties. Anny Sadrin in The Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens notes that Tauchnitz "was licensed to publish for continental circulation only" (209), and that, although he had already published Pickwick, Oliver, Nickleby, and American Notes, only in 1843 did Baron Tauchnitz actually approach Dickens directly to come to some formal arrangement about receiving early proofs of The young author's work as it was coming out in London. This edition of A Christmas Carol may be the first fruits of the arrangement with the writer and his Continental publishers who were prohibited from selling into the other copyright markets of Great Britain and her colonies. Between 1841 and the novelist's death in 1870 Tauchnitz published the entire range of Dickens's novels, short fiction, and the non-fiction works of volume length — to say nothing of the works of Sir Edward G. D. Bulwer-Lytton, Anthony Trollope, William Makepeace Thackeray, and George Meredith. Since "the first Baron Tauchnitz (1816-1895) often secured . . . advance proofs of work then in press [his firm] . . . thus occasionally produced variant texts preceding those customarily regarded as 'first editions'" (Todd 780). Such would seem to be the case in the Tauchnitz edition of a Christmas Carol, which would have enjoyed copyright protection in the German states.

Charles Dickens even sent one of his sons to Tauchnitz to learn German. The renowned Leipzig house continued to publish a range of English-language texts, including bilingual dictionaries in English and other European languages, until the RAF's bombing of Leipzig in 1943. "Only a surprisingly small number of Tauchnitz reprints seem to have seeped back into the British market, despite their cheapness and attractive format" (Sutherland 619). Todd estimates that between 1841 and 1943 the firm published in its "Collection of British and American Authors" alone some 750 writers in 5,370 volumes, "eventually achieving a total issue exceeding 40 million copies" (780), to which one might add a limited number of rare editions in such series as "Young Readers" (30 volumes, 1860-1883), "German authors in English translation (51 vols., 1867-1892), and . . . abridged English texts and accompanying German commentary for use in schools (41 vols., 1886-1917; 52 vols., 1926-1939)" (Todd, 780).

The Frontispiece Illustration and Title-pages

Left: John Leech's "Marley's Ghost" (1843, coloured lithograph based on the Chapman and Hall steel engraving); middle: the Tauchnitz title-page; right: Volume 16 title-page (1843). These scans contributed by Isabel Vila Cabanes, doctoral student, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany, from a copy in the library of Thüringer Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Jena. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

The text of the Tauchntiz Christmas Carol exists in two related forms: the 1843 volume, probably published prior to the Chapman and Hall volume of 19 December 1843, and a composite of the Carol accompanied by the next two Christmas Books, The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth (Leipzig, 1846).

The scans presented here are from the 1846 octavo edition since the condition of the illustration in the 1843 edition renders it unsuitable for scanning because the onion sheet is stuck to the illustration. Both editions look the same, and the 1846 edition does indeed include not only a title-page with its actual date of publication, 1846, but also a reproduction of the original title-page of 1843 after the illustration. The 1846 anthology has an enlarged version of the title-page and does not mention the title in vogue after 1852, The Christmas Books; rather, it reads: "A Christmas Carol in Prose; The chimes; the Cricket on the Hearth." With a coloured Etching. By Charles Dickens. Leipzig: Tauchnitz, 1846.. The "Preface" to the 1846 edition is identical to that of the expanded 1846 edition, and the pagination for A Christmas Carol is also identical to that of the first part of the 1846 edition: 78 pages. However, the 1846 edition's reproduction of the 1843 title-page has substituted "Copyright edition" for "Edition sanctioned by the author." Apparently, Tauchnitz published The Haunted Man and The Ghost's Bargain: A Fancy for Christmas-Time late in 1848, the timing again suggesting an arrangement similar to that between author and continental publisher for the Carol.

Explanatory Notice from the 1843 Edition


This collection will be particularly distinguished by its correctness of text, elegance in exterior and cheapness in price; it is therefore hoped that the friends of the English language and literature will be gratified with this edition.

To suit the purchaser each volume will be sold separately.

In bringing forth this edition the publisher has been solicitous to render it a popular one; — convenient in its form and valuable in its content it will prove to be adapted not only for the public in general but for the use of schools in particular.

An enumeration of the volumes printed is given on the reverse of the envelope.

The other volumes will appear in speedy succession.

Both the 1843 and 1846 editions stipulate that the text belongs to Tauchnitz's "Collection of British Authors," but only the 1843 text has the above explanation.


Complete Works. 41 volumes bound in 20. Tauchnitz Editions in Uniform Leather Bindings. 1842-1853 including A Christmas Carol with color plate, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Household Words. etc., etc., Dickens, Charles. ABE Books. charles-dickens/kw/tauchnitz/price-min/50/sortby/1/page-1/, Web. Accessed 5 June 2013.

Davis, Paul. "Tauchnitz, Baron Christian Bernard (1816-1895)." Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File and Checkmark Books, 1998. P. 383.

Sadrin, Anny. "Foreign English-Language Edition." The Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens. Ed. Paul Schlicke. New York and Oxford: Oxford U. P., 1999. Pp. 208-209

Sutherland, John. "Tauchnitz." The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction. Stanford, Cal.: Stanford U. P., 1989. P. 619.

Todd, William B. "Tauchnitz Editions." Victorian Britain: An Encyclopedia. Ed. Sally Mitchell. New York and London: Garland, 1988. P. 780.

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Last modified 9 June 2013