LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- It's a holiday must in Louisville. The Actors Theatre portrayal of the 175-year-old story of “A Christmas Carol” written by Charles Dickens was published in December 1843.
Actors is home to America's 2nd longest running stage production of the beloved story about the true Christmas spirit.
One year before Dickens even thought about Marley's Ghost or Tiny Tim he was right here, walking the streets of Louisville.
At age 29, Jim Holmberg of the Louisville’s Filson Historical Society says Dickens was one of the biggest stars in the world.
“On the heels of Oliver Twist and things like that he had become a literary sensation. He was quite the celebrity in America,” Holmberg said.
Holmberg, the curator of collections at The Filson, has unearthed a treasure trove of Dickens’ connection to Louisville during his brief visit.
In 1842, Dickens had decided to tour America from England, and write about it. He started in Boston and was mobbed by fans.
When he arrived in Louisville, and off the steamboat, Dickens wrote about a city bursting at the seams, “Some unfinished buildings and improvements seem to intimate that the city had been overbuilt in the ardor of going ahead.”
Dickens wrote, “The buildings are smoky and blackened from the use of coal.”
He stayed at the original Galt House Hotel, then at 2nd and Main. Dickens liked it, writing, “We slept at the Galt House. A splendid hotel and we were as handsomely lodged as though we had been in Paris.”
Louisville had about 85-thousand people at the time, but it was tight around here. Our boundary to the east only went to Butchertown, and to the south stopped at Broadway.
Forest land surrounded the city, so when he walked around town Dickens would have been on Main, Market and possibly Jefferson streets.
After one night at the Galt House, he offered another opinion about Louisville, “After breakfast we devoted to riding through the town which was regular and cheerful. The streets laid out at right angles and are planted with young trees.”
Dickens killed time in Louisville, leaving the next day. He would observe and then write his most famous conclusion about our little town, “The road was perfectly alive with pigs of all ages, lying about in every direction, fast asleep or grunting along in quest of hidden dainties.”
Dickens did get a kick out of our pigs, adding, “I had always a sneaking kindness for these odd animals."
After barely two days here, the young man couldn't wait to get on his steamboat waiting in the Portland neighborhood.
Dickens wrote the final chapter about Louisville, putting on paper, “The city presenting no objects of sufficient interest to detain us on our way, we resolved to proceed the next day on another steamboat.”
I say, see ya, Chuck! Don't let the paddlewheel hit you on the way out.
And by the way, Merry Christmas!