Saturday 06 December 2008 | UK News feed | All feeds

Advertisement

You are here:

  1. Home
  2. News
  3. UK News

Real Scrooge 'was Dutch gravedigger'

 
Real Scrooge 'was Dutch gravedigger'
A Dutchman in costume at the 17th Dickens festival in Holland

He is synonymous with the traditional image of the Victorian English Christmas but Ebenezer Scrooge may have his roots much further afield.

According to Sjef de Jong, a Dutch academic, the Charles Dickens character may have been inspired by the real life of Gabriel de Graaf, a 19th century gravedigger who lived in Holland.

De Graaf, a drunken curmudgeon obsessed with money, was said to have disappeared one Christmas Eve, only to emerge years later as a reformed character.

While Dickens never travelled to Holland, he may have heard of de Graaf, who attributed his transformation to visions from dwarves, through his friend Hans Christian Andersen.

It has been widely accepted that Scrooge was an expansion of an earlier Dickens character, Gabriel Grub, from The Pickwick Papers.

Grub almost mirrored the life of his namesake in Bronkhurst, 20 miles from Arnhem, Holland.

"According to local people, the real Gabriel was a terrible man, unpleasant, addicted to alcohol and violent to children. Because he was so keen on money, he even dug graves on Christmas Eve. Then he disappeared. All he left was an empty bottle of gin in the grave," Dr de Jong said.

"Years later, Gabriel showed up saying he had changed after dwarves showed him a vision of a poor young child that died because nobody cared."

 
The Shannon Matthews case
Britain hit by snow
Telegraph Christmas Charity Appeal 2008
UK weather updates; Get a five-day forecast for your area
Advertisement
Advertisement

EDITOR'S CHOICE

Shipwreck could clear Blackbeard

Blackbeard: Shipwreck clues could clear  Blackbeard of sinking his ship to swindle his crew

New research has found that the feared pirate may be innocent of one of the most notorious charges against him.

most viewed

TELEGRAPH DATING

No_Half_Measures

I guess you have found that there are a number of great things in life that are better when they are described with another word after them. Laughing Eating in Going out Going...
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

The week in pictures

Inventor Osman Khan has created a sheep lawnmower. It is remotely guided by a GPS navigation system, has blades hidden in its mouth and six articulated legs

A round-up of our favourite photographs of the week.

Kitschmas stocking fillers

Twelve kitsch Christmas gifts for the Christian who has everything.

Boy George in pictures

Boy George has courted controversy since bursting on to the music scene.

Sponsored Features

40 free prints with Photobox

New customers registering today will receive 40 free prints. Sign up now

Christmas party canapes: recipes from top chefs

Christmas party canapes

Tips for a great seasonal shindig from the experts.

Mervyn King

A King-sized rate cut

How 2 per cent interest rates will affect savers and borrowers.

Save money on your bills: compare over 6,000 tariffs and services quickly & securely

Save money on your bills

Compare more than 6,000 tariffs and services quickly and securely.

Sell your unwanted jewellery and antiques for free at the Telegraph Market Place

Cash in before Christmas

Sell your unwanted jewellery and antiques for free.

Back to top

More Telegraph.co.uk

Archive Contact us Reader prints RSS feeds Subscribe and save Syndication Today's news

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2008 Terms & Conditions of reading Commercial information Privacy and Cookie Policy.