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Spotlight on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

By Laura Wallace, Tessa Thejas Thomas, Megan Coote, Abbie Wright

We have compiled a list of some of our favourite cover designs for the Christmas classic, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. First published in 1843, the festive novel has become a Christmas staple and with each new edition has come a new and unique cover design. Below are just some of the designs that have been produced over the years.

Hodder and Stoughton (Published 1911)

The elaborate cover design of the 1911 Hodder and Stoughton publication of A Christmas Carol is as classic and timeless as the tale within the pages of the book.

The dark blue of the background gives the impression of a dark night sky, indicating the darkness of the tale and of Scrooge’s character in the beginning. The golden Christmas decorations used in this edition’s cover look rich and elegant, with the contrasting image of the bent over Scrooge and children on the doorstep in muted duller colours. The decorations are arranged prettily across the cover with a wreath being the frame of the central image of the characters in the story.

The title of the book is presented in a simple and light serif font at the bottom of the page balancing the artwork on the cover nicely.

Usborne Illustrated Original (Published 2016)

The stunning Usborne Illustrated Original cover of A Christmas Carol, published in 2016 and illustrated by Alan Marks, depicts Charles Dickens’ classic novel perfectly. The red colour scheme spans across the whole cover, emphasising the Christmas atmosphere of the novel. Central to the cover is the open window where a spirit can be seen being transported in. Gold chains surround him, and several keys can be found hanging from these chains. Against the red of the cover, small snowfall is spread all around. This is also depicted on the open windowsill, creating a strong winter feel. Next to the window, holding a candle next to the red background, Scrooge is depicted with a look of discontentment and misery.

The text is in serif font, which creates a traditional classic feel in line with the story. The text for the title itself is script-like, complimenting the flowy whimsical elements of the rest of the cover, which adds to the movement and reinforces the Christmas setting. 

As this is an illustrated version of A Christmas Carol, the cover gives the reader a sense of the style of illustrations inside.

Wordsworth Collectors Edition (Published 2018)

The Wordsworth Collector Edition is clothbound with embossing, as per Wordsworth’s signature style, but, unlike many of their books, the colour scheme is muted and grey. This provides a visual representation of Scrooge’s personality as he struggles to see the joy in Christmas. The lack of colour on a Christmas book cover is unusual and this is what makes this design stand out perfectly whilst also tying to the story and the journey Scrooge goes on.

The pops of red from the holly berries against the grey leaves seems to indicate the colour returning to Scrooge’s life after he is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. Holly is also referenced by Scrooge himself early on, as he says anybody who wishes a Merry Christmas should be “buried with a stake of holly through his heart.” The Ghost of Christmas Present wears a wreath of holly on its head and the Ghost of Christmas Past holds a fresh branch of holly in its hands. Holly is therefore a clear symbol throughout the story in multiple ways.

The candle in the centre of the design indicates Scrooge finding light in the darkness and ties perfectly with the gold used for the embossed lettering, adding a festive and luxurious touch to the edition.

Orion Children’s Edition (Published 2019)

This edition gives the infamous story of A Christmas Carol a more appealing cover for a younger audience, with the fun and vibrant drawings of the story’s main character, Scrooge, and Tiny Tim. The bright red, green and gold draw a young reader's eye immediately and the festive details make it stand out during the Christmas season. The illustrative style is similar to that of novels written by Roald Dahl, and this will highlight to readers that this will be a fun retelling of the Christmas classic.

This is an interesting and thoughtful cover for the infamous book and its little details – such as the mouse running along the bottom of the cover and the added sparkle around the title – really makes this an eye-catching design. This would be a perfect gift for a young reader and a great introduction to the world of classic literature.


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