Posted on December 20, 2019 at 2:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

A Christmas Carol was an immediate smash hit for author Charles Dickens.

The downside of that? Less scrupulous and less talented folks were eager to seize some of the wealth for themselves.

Back in 1840, before copyright law was firmly in place, Dickens’s ongoing battles with pirates came to a head, as JSTOR Daily reports.

That was the year that Parley’s Illuminated Library, a weekly paper in London that mostly shortened, reworded, and published popular literature, took its liberties with A Christmas Carol.

Dickens was incensed and took the publishers to court, successfully stopping Parley’s from printing any more of its A Christmas Carol, but losing hundreds of pounds in legal fees that he couldn’t recoup from the suddenly bankrupt publisher.

The silver lining, beyond a moral victory? Dickens’s experiences with the legal system made their way into another of his novels, Bleak House.

Read more about Parley’s Illuminated Library and its fight with Dickens on JSTOR Daily.

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