This year the Ascension Island Post Office has released 4 Christmas stamps that illustrate scenes from A Christmas Carol, to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens, the greatest novelist of the Victorian period.
During his lifetime he enjoyed unprecedented popularity and fame and time has not diminished the appeal of his work. His fictional characters remain as captivating today as ever, whilst the underlying social commentary on Victorian society and his belief that "Virtue shows quite as well in rags and patches as she does in purple and fine linen" has given his novels an enduring relevance.
A Christmas Carol is almost certainly his best-known story. It was published on 19th December 1843, the year of the first commercially available Christmas card; a time when Victorian Britain was experiencing a nostalgic interest in its forgotten Christmas traditions. As middle-class expectations were rising Dickens painted Christmas as a family-based festival of generosity and kindness. In so doing he influenced many aspects of Christmas that are celebrated today in Western culture, such as family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games, and a festive generosity of spirit.