You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe

Ideas

Was Dickens’s Christmas Carol borrowed from Lowell’s mill girls?

A new discovery by literary scholars highlights an unexpected inspiration

The industrial city of Lowell might seem a world apart from the fireside British scenes we associate with Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” In the 19th century, in vast new brick buildings along the Merrimack River, young women factory laborers toiled 12 hours a day spinning cotton into fabric, and went home to boarding houses in America’s first company town.

But what those women did in their spare time may very well have shaped one of the great works of holiday literature.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week