THE signed 1844 edition of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol which was recently bought for Malton as part of campaign to provide a literary legacy for the town has gone on display at The Talbot Hotel.

Inscribed “Mrs Smithson, from Charles Dickens, 18th April 1844”, the edition was given by Charles Dickens to the widow of his great friend, lawyer Charles Smithson.

The book has been hidden from public view until now and was bought in New York from a private vendor, following an appeal to raise the funds made in the Gazette & Herald by writer and local resident Selina Scott in September.

It will be on display at The Talbot until January 2, after which, it will be looked after at York University Library.

Future plans include taking the book ‘on tour’ to schools and organisations around the area as well as reviving the Christmas Dickens festival and linking with other events in the town, including the Malton Food Lovers Festival.

Selina, who lives near Malton, said: “Charles Dickens would have known the Talbot Hotel well. His final journey to Malton, alighting at the Talbot, was for Charles Smithson’s funeral at St Mary’s.

“It is rich in resonance that his ‘little Carol’ signed to Elizabeth Smithson should be displayed here 186 years later. The historic and newly-restored hotel is a perfect setting for A Christmas Carol. I am sure if Dickens came back today he would be delighted to find it here.”

Tom Naylor-Leyland, of the Fitzwilliam Estate, which owns the hotel, said it was amazing to have the book back in Malton.

“It’s funny to think of it having been given by Dickens to Mrs Smithson as a present and then travelling around the world ending up in New York before returning home to Malton.

“I am really pleased and delighted about the national coverage the town has got through it and delighted it will be on display at The Talbot.”

Clair Chadwick, managing director of marketing and fundraising agency Cause UK, who worked with local businessman Stephen Joll to secure the purchase of the book, said: “This project just chimed with Cause UK and we knew we had the skill and tenacity to make it a reality.

“Dickens was a great social philanthropist and we’re planning to spread that spirit, through education, the arts, charitable initiatives and community engagement.”