Dickens of a tale, recalled by Selina Scott

Selina Scott
Selina Scott

A famous tale of festive revelation which is understood to have taken inspiration from Malton is being retold in audiobook form to further the education of the life and work of the story’s revered author.

Selina Scott, the Scarborough-born broadcaster who lives in Malton, has put her voice to an audiobook of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

All proceeds raised from its sale are donated to Dickens’ Gift to Yorkshire, a charity set up with the specific aim of spreading the word of the legendary storyteller across the county.

A rare edition of the tale, published 169 years ago and signed by the author, was brought back home to Yorkshire from New York last November when it sold for £27,280 at auction.

The copy is considered as physical evidence of Dickens’s close ties with Malton.

It was a gift from the writer to the widow of local lawyer and close friend Charles Smithson. Dickens is said to have been a frequent visitor to the town and was known to stay with Mr Smithson at Easthorpe Hall and Abbey House, Old Malton. He attended his friend’s funeral at St Mary’s Church and various local connections have been recognised in the author’s novels.

The 1844 edition of A Christmas Carol is now on display at the University of York.

Ms Scott said of the recording process: “It took a whole day to do and it was very difficult to capture the voices of the ghosts and Scrooge.

“Reading A Christmas Carol again I had forgotten how rich in vocabulary and layer upon layer of thoughts Dickens had woven into this book.

“It’s full of colour and I really enjoyed it.”

The character of Scrooge was, according to local tradition, inspired by Dickens’ visits to Malton.

It is said that the office of Scrooge was based on Mr Smithson’s office in Chancery Lane. Characters featured in other Dickens stories are said to be based on Malton residents, including Sairey Gamp in Martin Chuzzlewit who is believed to be modelled on Smithson’s housekeeper.

To order A Christmas Carol read by Selina Scott, priced £10 plus £1.50 p&p, email clair@causeuk.com or call 07531 948014.