Author The Old Vic
In celebrating the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth, Simon Callow wrote of him: ‘The reason I love him so deeply is that, having experienced the lower depths, he never ceased, till the day he died, to commit himself, both in his work and in his life, to trying to right the wrongs inflicted by society, above all, perhaps by giving the dispossessed a voice’.
Affected by his own family’s financial difficulties, Dickens supported the Ragged Schools which were set up to educate children living in poverty, and also campaigned for housing reform and sanitation. He was well known for his generosity, and throughout his life supported over 43 charitable organisations, giving his time, money and pushing those who were wealthier to contribute too.
In October 1843, Dickens gave a talk at an educational charity for working men and women in Manchester. Walking the streets of the city afterwards, Dickens was struck by the extreme poverty he witnessed, which had been accelerated by the recent rapid industrialisation. By December 1843, Dickens had finished A Christmas Carol, and it was published by Christmas. The biographer Michael Slater wrote that the novella was a way to ‘help open the hearts of the prosperous and powerful towards the poor and powerless’.
As a registered charity itself, The Old Vic believes that it is vital to encourage those around us to support others. Honouring Dickens’ central message of A Christmas Carol, each year we choose a charity focusing on tackling issues of inner-city deprivation to be the recipient of charitable support. Since the show began in 2017, our incredible audiences globally have raised over £1 million for five different charities through bucket collections and online or text donations.
This year, A Christmas Carol will play from 12 Nov 2022–07 Jan 2023 and will raise money for City Harvest, a surplus food redistribution charity providing 1.2 million meals a month. They re-distribute food – that would otherwise go to waste – to grassroots organisations that feed some of London’s most vulnerable people.