The Man Who Invented Christmas now in theaters

Les Standiford just saw one of his most recent books come to life.

The FIU Creative Writing Program director got a sneak peek of The Man Who Invented Christmas, a major motion picture based on his book of the same title. It tells the story of how Charles Dickens — at a time when he was broke and struggling — came to write one of the most beloved Christmas classics of all time, A Christmas Carol.

Les Standiford and Susan Coyne, screenwriter, at the New York premiere of The Man Who Invented Christmas. (Photo by Patrick Lewis/Starpix. Courtesy of Bleecker Street.)

 “When I saw the final product with the music and effects, I almost got tears in my eyes,” Standiford said. “What a thrill it is to have your book made into a film with such care. Hopefully, it means a brand-new audience will come to understand that one of the most widely-read books in history very nearly didn’t get written.”

The film opened nationwide Nov. 22.

Starring Christopher Plummer as Scrooge and Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens, the film follows a young Dickens in 1843 after three of his latest books flopped and he was trying to keep his family financially afloat. In just six weeks, he wrote the story of Tiny Tim and Ebenezer Scrooge, only to have the book rejected by his publishers. He decided to publish it himself. It was an instant success.

In his book, Standiford illustrates how many of today’s favorite Christmas traditions — family gatherings, gift exchanging and charity giving — were introduced in the Dickens’ classic. Many know the disgruntled “Bah Humbug” came from the book, but few realize the favorite salutation “Merry Christmas” is also a gift from Dickens.

Standiford, a historical non-fiction and fiction writer, served as a consultant to the film and spent time on set in Dublin, Ireland. He hopes moviegoers will be moved by the magic of the film and seek out the book itself.

“What took me over was coming to understand Charles Dickens as a human being instead of a literary icon, along with the chance to re-appreciate the genius of A Christmas Carol,” Standiford said. “That no one had bothered to tell this story before continues to astonish me. I think it is very nearly as heart-warming a story as A Christmas Carol itself.”

Thanks to Standiford, everyone can now know the story behind the story.