A Christmas Carol - Historical Background

We are going to be reading a play called "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. This is an abridged (shortened) version of his original novel of the same title, and still contains much of the original language and all of the important plot, characters, setting, and lessons that Dickens presented in the full-length book. 

Before we read, it is important for to understand the history of the Victorian era, life in London during this time period, and important events in Charles Dickens' life.  Having this background knowledge will allow you to understand what is going on in the play and to learn all that Dickens is teaching his readers.

  1. Read the questions below, and go to the corresponding website to find the answer. Hint: Right click on the hyperlink in red, and click on Open in New Window.  That will keep this page open.
  2. As you find the correct information, write out your answers in complete sentences and in your own words In your books.  
  3. Information copied from the sites will not be accepted



Part One - Click on the following link: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/olivertwist/dickens_timeline_text.html 

1.  What was the date of Charles Dickens' birth?


2.  How old was Dickens when the family moved to London, England?

3.  What was Dickens doing right before he died?

4.  What famous story(ies) did Dickens write in 1843? 

Part Two - Go to the following link: http://charlesdickenspage.com/christmas.html


5.  In the book, Tiny Tim has to walk with a crutch, although the story never specifically says why.  What illness does Tiny Tim have?  Was it curable?


6.  Smoking Bishop and Plum Pudding are two of the foods mentioned in A Christmas Carol.  Explain what these foods are.  What are some of the main ingredients?  What did they make them in? 

Part Three - Go to the following link:  http://charlesdickenspage.com/dickens_london_map.html


7.  What real life person and what A Christmas Carol character lived in Camden Town?


8.  Scrooge's business is in an area of London known as The City.  His employee, Bob, had to pass Cornhill and walk home to Camden Town.,  What do you notice about these locations?  What would Bob have seen on his way to and from work? 

Part Four - Go to: http://www.english.uwosh.edu/roth/VictorianEngland.htm

Dickens lived during the Victorian era.  Read the first five paragraphs on this website.


9.   Summarise this time period in one paragraph (5-6 sentences)


10. What made Victorians “Victorian” more than anything?  In other words, what attitude did Victorians have which made them different from people before them? 

Part Five-  Scroll down until you see Money: http://www.english.uwosh.edu/roth/VictorianEngland.htm


11. List the three types of money used in England at the time.


12. A little further down, you’ll notice “DISEASES.”  Please list and define three major diseases during Dicken’s time. 

Go to the following site: http://charlesdickenspage.com/carol.html

 13.  Read the section titled "Fifteen Bob a Week".  Scrooge pays his employee "fifteen shillings a week".  What could be bought with that? 

Part Six- Go to: http://www.victorianweb.org/history/poorlaw/dietwh.html


14.  Workhouses were built to house poor Victorians, who worked for a small amount of food and money.  Name five foods that poor Victorians were given here.  


Part Seven- Go to: http://www.logicmgmt.com/1876/schoolday.htm


15. Please read the list of 10 rules, which were found in a typical Victorian classroom.  In your opinion, which rules should still be used in schools today?  Explain why.

Part Eight- Go to: https://friendsofoakgrovecemetery.org/victorian-funeral-customs-fears-and-superstitions/

16.  Read the first three paragraphs.  Explain 3-4 of the customs Victorians observed at the time of a death.

17.  Scroll down the page a bit.  List 3-4 superstitions Victorians believed regarding death.


Part Nine- Go to: http://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/child-labour

18.  Read the first two paragraphs.  Explain 3 hardships poor children faced.


Part Ten- Go to: http://www.fourposterbed.co.uk/history2.html

19.  What are bed curtains and what was their purpose?

Part Eleven- Go to: http://www.victoriaspast.com/ParlorGames/parlor_games.htm

20. At one point in the story, Scrooge witnesses people playing Blind Man's Bluff.  Explain how to play Blind Man's Bluff and one other game of your choosing.


Part Twelve- Go to: http://charlesdickenspage.com/reading_dickens.html

21.  In the nineteenth century, who read Dickens?

22.  Why, as we read Dickens today, is it challenging?


Part Thirteen- Go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Dickens


23.  Dickens married Catherine Hogarth in 1836.  How many children did they have?

24.  Dickens wrote 20 major novels during his lifetime.  Please write down four; they should match the dates:













Part Fourteen- Go to: http://www.hiddenlives.org.uk/articles/poverty.html

25.  During the Victorian Era, there was a problem with poverty.  Explain what it might have been like to be impoverished.  What was the social attitude toward poor people?  What might the living conditions be?

Each question is worth 4 points.

Your answers will be evaluated on the following:

  1. All questions are answered completely
  2. Answers are in complete sentences
  3. Answers are written neatly

Upon completing this webquest, you should have a better understanding of Victorian England, and the issues that are addressed in A Christmas Carol.  This will give you the knowledge that you need to better understand and appreciate this story.