A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens. It tells the story of bitter old miser Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation resulting from supernatural visits by Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. The tale begins on a "cold, bleak, biting" Christmas Eve exactly seven years after the death of Scrooge's business partner Jacob Marley. Scrooge, an old miser, is established within the first stave as "a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!" He hates Christmas, calling it "humbug"; he refuses his nephew Fred's Christmas dinner invitation, and rudely turns away two gentlemen who seek a donation from him to provide a Christmas dinner for the poor. His only "Christmas gift" is allowing his overworked, underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit Christmas Day off with pay ? which he does only to keep with social custom, Scrooge considering it "a poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every 25th of December!"