First published on December 19th, 1843 Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" has so captured the public's imagination all over the world, that in the 171 years since it was first published, it has become an all-time best seller.
Yet Dickens' publisher thought it would never sell and at first rejected it.
The reason is Dickens' recent books had not sold well, and the publisher saw nothing special in this one.
In 1843, England led the Industrial Revolution, and in that Revolution, a few men got rich, while much of humanity struggled in poverty.
In major industrial cities, people died of preventable diseases, pollution and even hunger, and child labor was common. Life was a miserable existence.
Dickens responded by putting Scrooge, a rich man, on trial in a very compelling story.
Scrooge is a bitter old cheapskate, who finds charity repugnant and mistreats his employees. He is rich in money but friendless in the world, despised by all who know him.
But on Christmas Eve, the ghost of his deceased business partner Jacob Marley visits him.
Marley is condemned to wander the world dragging heavy chains, resulting from his lifetime of greed and exploitation. He appeals to Scrooge to change his wicked ways while there is still time.
One by one, Marley is followed by the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come, who show Scrooge the horrific affect his evil acts have on people, and even on himself.
As a result, a remarkable transformation takes place.
Tears in his eyes, Scrooge vows to change and by story's end, he becomes a very generous man and a blessing in the lives of others, celebrated by all.
It is a great story, and yet without Dickens' courage, it never would have been published.
When the publisher rejected it, Dickens risked his money to have it published. But Dickens set a high quality publishing standard and the expenses ran far over budget.
Despite the book selling out by Christmas Eve and selling in big numbers thereafter, for the next year, it made almost no money.
In 1844, Dickens' wife gave birth to their fifth child and the couple feared going broke.
But "A Christmas Carol," eventually became a book publishing classic and a financial bonanza, rewarding not only the courageous Dickens, but all of us who enjoy this timeless tale.