The Christmas season is upon us, infiltrating daily life with carols, hot cider, and family gatherings. I've loved Christmas since childhood, whether wrapping presents, baking cookies, decorating the tree, or singing carols. In keeping with this favored holiday, my favorite story has always been A Christmas Carol, regardless of the time of year. This, of course, led to my passion for all of Dickens' works (my next favorite is Great Expectations). In my opinion, Dickens is the greatest author of all time and the first character to be introduced in Dickens' Mice, The Tails Behind the Tale.
Charles Dickens, author
Born in Portsmouth England on February 7, 1812, Charles Dickens would go on to become one of the most notable authors in history. He went to school at age nine but was later withdrawn in order to accompany his family to debtor's prison. Sadly, his father had made some poor financial decisions resulting in the imprisonment. Charles was sent to work at Warrens Boot Blacking factory under deplorable conditions where he and others were cruelly treated. When the family left the prison three years later, Charles and his father obtained jobs as reporters and thus his career as a writer began. He would pen many novels over the years addressing the horrible conditions for factory workers as well as the inhumane treatment of the poor and mentally ill. In 1843, Dickens wrote the first of his Christmas stories, A Christmas Carol. It would sell 6,000 copies within a few months of release. The book was printed with the highest quality materials but sold for only 5 shillings as the author wanted make it available to all classes.
Clint, the Chef
"Clint, a white mouse of ample stature with large soulful eyes, round face, and wire brimmed glasses, was chef extraordinaire."
The character of Clint is based upon Clint Campbell, an amazing man of great charm and hospitality. He was an amazing cook, and baker, known for his delectable coffee cake. A broad smile and welcoming demeanor, Clint’s bubbly personality immediately drew you in. I don’t believe he ever met a stranger.
Tom, the Professor
"A well-traveled mouse, Tom was known to have stayed in some of the finest mouse holes in England, the most prestigious of which was the Tower of London. "
The second mouse, Tom, is based upon Tom Boyce. Having known Tom for years, I had opportunity to debate him on many topics, not to mention glean insight from his wisdom. He was extremely well read and knowledgeable in a wide range of subjects. His southern manners made him a joy to be around. When writing the character of Tom, the seal brown mouse, it seemed apropos to make him a professor.
John, the Pastor
"John, a gentle souled gray mouse, delivered sermons at the mouse hole of Euston Church, a towering Gothic Revival, each Sunday morn."
The last mouse is based upon another remarkable figure in our town, John Keith. An extraordinary person, John always had a smile on his face and a kind word on his lips. He was thrifty in all of his endeavors, making use of discarded items to better the lives of those around him. He collected old houses and old cars, which he lovingly restored. John’s faith in God, and his knowledge of the bible, was impeccable. He accepted everyone as a child of God, without judgment. He was a genuinely good person.
Clint, Tom, and John were some of the finest, most benevolent individuals I’ve known. I miss them and hope their shining personalities show through the whimsical characters of this tale.
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