Dickens had a variety of motivations in writing A Christmas Carol.
Financial. Dickens earned a living as an author, and sales of his previous novel, Martin Chuzzlewit, were slowing. As a result, his publishers were threatening to reduce his income. At the same time, his wife was expecting a fifth child so his expenses were due to increase. He needed to write something popular simply because he needed the income.
Social. Prior to the Victorian era when Dickens lived, Christmas celebrations were largely religious in nature. During his life celebrations, as we know them today with a tree, cards and presents, were becoming more popular. A tale promoting these themes thus seemed likely to find a ready audience. Christmas also held a strong interest for Dickens and he had written stories with a Yuletide theme before such as A Christmas Dinner and the inclusion of a Christmas episode in The Pickwick Papers.
Political. The plight of the poor was a long-standing theme in Dickens' prior work, since his own childhood had been touched by poverty following his father's imprisonment as a debtor. Events in 1843 before he started work on A Christmas Carol brought these feelings to the fore. He witnessed child labour and the suffering it caused in both Cornwall and London. A Parliamentary report, the Second Report of the Children's Employment Commission was published on the subject. Dickens wanted to respond to this with a pamphlet of his own but felt a moving Christmas narrative would reach a wider audience, and prove more moving than a polemic essay.
- Kelly, Richard Michael (2003). "Introduction". In Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol.
- Callow, Simon (2009). Dickens' Christmas: A Victorian Celebration.