A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas (commonly known as A Christmas Carol) is a book by Charles Dickens that was first published on December 19, 1843 with illustrations by John Leech. Dickens called it his "little Christmas Book". The first of the author's five "Christmas books," the story was instantly successful, selling over six thousand copies in one week. Originally written in six weeks under financial duress to help Dickens to pay off a debt, the tale has become one of the most popular and enduring Christmas stories of all time.
Some historians have suggested that the story's popularity played a significant role in redefining the importance of Christmas and the "spirit" of the holiday. A Christmas Carol was written during a time of decline in the old Christmas traditions. "If Christmas, with its ancient and hospitable customs, its social and charitable observances, were in danger of decay, this is the book that would give them a new lease," said English poet Thomas Hood.