THE YORKSHIRE market town which is said to have inspired one of Charles Dickens’s most famous characters has successfully purchased a rare edition of A Christmas Carol in a nail-biting New York auction.
The purchase of the book is part of a campaign which raised over £27,000, spearheaded by broadcaster Selina Scott, to reclaims Dickens for Malton.
Hidden from public view until now, the specially bound edition was commissioned by Dickens for the wife of his friend, lawyer Charles Smithson, after his untimely death at the age of 39.
There is a long-standing tradition that the office of Scrooge was based on Smithson’s office on Chancery Lane in Malton, and that various characters of Dickens were based upon residents of the area.
Miss Scott said: “Over the last century or so Dickens’s intimate association with Malton has largely been based on anecdotal evidence.
“I have, however, discovered in the early archive of my grandfather, who was born in 1867 and was, at one stage, editor of the Malton Messenger, many references to Dickens and A Christmas Carol and Malton’s literary heritage.
“For over a hundred years it has been widely acknowledged that Dickens drew his characters like Scrooge from those he met in the town. When this rare and remarkable book came up for auction in New York, we had to act.
“The whole town has come together, raiding savings and piggy banks to raise enough funds. We’re proud to have bought the ghost of Dickens’s Christmas back.”
The campaign to get the fund together in just four weeks was led by local business man Stephen Joll and Clair Challenor-Chadwick, managing director of fund raising and marketing company Cause UK.