“Christmas Carol” Book Collector Shares Rare Editions in Berkley Library Display
(Lara Mossa, Dec. 13, 2018)
Berkley, MI – The Berkley Public Library is celebrating the 175th anniversary of “A Christmas Carol” with a special display of 30 different books, DVDs and albums.
Eric A. Murrell, 56, a lifelong Berkley resident, has been collecting versions of “A Christmas Carol” for 10 years. A sample of his collection has been on display since early November and will run through early January. The library is at 3155 Coolidge Highway in Berkley.
“It’s a timeless classic about redemption – about someone who is not a very nice person and changes his ways,” he said.
First published in 1843 in England, the classic novel tells the story of an elderly man, Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by the spirits of Christmas past, present and future as well as his former business partner, Jacob Marley. After these visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man. Since its release, the book by Charles Dickens has been published all over the world and in countless languages.
Murrell has several dozen of the texts and has always been intrigued by the different editions and illustrations, he said. The earliest edition he has was published in the United States in 1868. His collection includes books, records, audiobooks, DVDs and even a graphic novel.
A couple of his favorites include a 1915 release with illustrations done by the famous artist Arthur Rackham as well as the DVD of the 1971 musical starring Albert Finney.
Murrell finds his pieces through Internet book sellers and eBay. He is still collecting books and would love to have one that was actually published by Dickens, he said. The novel, which is roughly 220 pages in paperback, also was produced in abridged formats – 10- to 12-page versions given as Christmas gifts.
The first edition, which Murrell does not have, is extremely rare and worth more than $10,000. The original manuscript is in a library in New York City.
Murrell reads the book every December, he said, adding that Dickens was really good with words and was a wonderful writer.
“There is no question he was very talented,” he said. “It reads very well. I like the story. It’s a great book.”
Illustrations include all different mediums, ranging from hand-colored engravings to primitive drawings and water colors.
Murrell has been involved with the library for a long time having worked there as a page in 1978 and 1979. Now an architect, he and his wife, Susan, have two cats.
As the last line reads, he wished everyone a Merry Christmas and said: “God bless us everyone.”
Those who like “A Christmas Carol” may also like the annual Holly Dickens Festival. The event has passed for this year, but will take place the three weekends following Thanksgiving in 2019.
As Dickens Festival Approaches, Things to Know About the Author (Nov. 16, 2016)
Holly Dickens Festival Continues (Dec. 6, 2018)
Gerty the Therapy Dog Helps Kids Read Confidently at Berkley Library (July 23, 2018)