Charles Dickens Detailed Timeline.

The following is a detailed timeline we are compiling of the movements of the life of the Victorian writer Charles Dickens based upon his movements as we come across letters, newspaper articles and other research.
We have also included some key contemporary events that occurred in society.

Missing a date? if you know of any movements not covered here we would welcome letting us know, along with a reference to any source material so we can try to fill in the gaps.



  • August (21). John Dickens was born in London, the son of William Dickens and Elizabeth Ball.


  • December (21). Elizabeth Barrow is born, the daughter of Charles Barrow and Mary Culliford.




May (11). Tory Prime Minister Spencer Perceval is assassinated.


  • March. Alfred Dickens born. He died in September of the same year.



  • Letitia Dickens (1816 – 1893) born.





  • Harriet Dickens (1819 – 1827) born.
August (16). Peterloo massacre in Manchester.


  • John Dickens writes a story for The Times.
  • Frederick Dickens (1820 – 1868) born.
February (23). Cato Street Conspiracy. A plot to kill the whole cabinet of government is thwarted and the conspirators arrested.



  • The Dickens family moves to Bayham Street in Camden Town, London.
  • Alfred Dickens (1822 – 1860) born.





  • Charles’s studies continue at Wellington House Academy, but his family’s financial situation worsens and makes the costs of schooling for Fanny and Charles increasingly unbearable.


  • March. Dickens family are evicted for non-payment of rates.
  • Dickens leaves Wellington House Academy.
  • Starts work as a solicitor’s clerk at Gray’s Inn, London.
  • Augustus Dickens (1827 – 1858) born.


  • The Dickens family moves back to lodgings above a grocer’s shop at Norfolk Street.





May (30). World’s first regular passenger train service begins, linking Canterbury to Whitstable, powered by Robert Stephenson’s Invicta steam locomotive.


  • Dickens works as a parliamentary reporter.



July (26). The Slavery Abolition Bill is passed by Parliament. It leads to the eventual outlawing of slavery throughout the British Empire.


October (16). Houses of Parliament destroyed by fire.




June (20). Victoria becomes became Queen of the United Kingdom.



  • January (30). Dickens and Hablot Browne travel to Yorkshire to visit boarding schools.
  • February. Dickens begins work on Nicholas Nickleby.
  • March (6). Dickens’s second child, Mary, is born.
  • March (30) – September 1839. Nicholas Nickleby is published.
June (28). Coronation of Queen Victoria.
  • September. Dickens and family holiday on the Isle of Wight, passing through Portsmouth en-route.
September (17). London to Birmingham line opens and the railway boom begins.
  • October (29/30). Dickens and Hablot Browne visit Leamington Spa en route to the Midlands and Wales.
  • October (31). Dickens travels through the Midlands to Shrewsbury, staying overnight.



January (10). A new national postal service with a univeral rate, the penny post, begins. The first stamps go on sale a few months later.


  • February. Barnaby Rudge. is published weekly between February and November.
  • February (8). Their fourth child, Walter Savage Landor, is born.
  • Summer. Charles and Catherine tour Scotland.


  • January (2). Charles and Catherine travel to Liverpool, staying the night at the Adelphi Hotel in preparation for their journey to America.
  • January (3). Charles and Catherine depart from Liverpool on the steamship SS Britannia to America.
  • June (7). Departs America for England, sailing in the George Washington.
June (22). Mines Act bans children under 10 from working in mines and females from working underground.
  • June (29). Returns to Liverpool and departs for London.
  • August (1). The Dickens family leave London to spend the summer in Broadstairs. Stay there two months.
August (29). The Treaty of Nanking is signed, ending the First Opium War (1839–42) between the United Kingdom and China, and ceding Hong Kong to the British Empire.
  • December (6). Charles and Catherine visit the St. John’s home of the poet and friend Thomas Hood, along with friend and painter Daniel Maclise.



  • January (6). A pirated version of A Christmas Carol appears.
  • January (8). Dickens issues proceddings for an injunction against the publishers Lee and Haddock.
  • January (10). Injunction against the publishers Lee and Haddock issued.
  • January (11). Injunctions against the four other publishers for pirated versions of A Christmas Carol.
  • January (18). Publishers Lee and Haddok attempt to overturn the injunction against them at a hearing at Westminster Hall. It is thrown out.
  • February (5). Edward Stirling’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol opens at Adelphi Theatre.
  • February (26). Gives a speech at the Liverpool Mechanics’ Institution.
  • February (28). Travels by train to Birmingham. Gives a speech in aid of the Birmingham Polytechnic Institution at the Town Hall. Stays over at Dee’s Royal Hotel in Temple Row.
  • April (4). Dickens stays over at York to attend a funeral the following day.
  • April (5). Dickens takes an early morning coach to Malton to attend the funeral of his friend Charles Smithson.
  • Dickens’s fifth child, Francis Jeffrey (Frank) is born.
  • Dickens and family travel to Italy for an extended stay.
  • December (2). Gives a private reading of The Chimes at John Forster’s house.


  • Summer. Works on a production of Every Man in his Humour.
September. Irish potato famine begins. It is estimated that about a million people died during the four-year famine and led to the emigration of a further million people.


  • January (21). The Daily News first published.
  • February (9). Dickens resigns as editor of the The Daily News.
  • April (21). Alfred D’Orsay Tennyson, baptized at the church of St. Mary Marylebone.
  • May (31). Dickens and his family set off for Switzerland.
  • June (11). The Dickens family stay at the Villa Rosemont just outside Lausanne, Lake Geneva, Switzerland.
June (30). Prime Minister Robert Peel resigns after the Corn Laws are repealed.
  • October. Dombey and Son is published monthly between October 1846 and April 1848.
  • November (16). Family leave Villa Rosemont and head for France.
  • November (20). Dickens family arrive in Paris, initially staying at the Hotel Brighton and later renting a house at No. 48 Rue de Courcelles.


  • March. Charles and Catherine Dickens return to London. Rents a house at 1 Chester Place, Regents Park from March – June.
  • April (3). Withdraws Charley from King’s College School due to outbreak of Scarlet Fever.
  • April (18). Dickens’s seventh child, Sydney Smith Haldimand, is born at Chester Place.
  • June (27). Sydney Smith Haldimand baptized at the church of St. Mary in Marylebone.
  • July (28). Appears at Theatre Royal Liverpool as a performer in an amateur performance of Every Man In His Humour.
  • November. Urania Cottage opens.
  • December (1, Wednesday). Dickens chairs the annual meeting of the Leeds Mechanics’ Institution, held at the Music Hall, Leeds. Also in attendance is the engineer George Stephenson.


  • May (15). Dickens manages and performs at a charity night at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in aid of Shakespeare’s House at Stratford-upon-Avon.
  • June (5). Appears in charity performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor in Liverpool.
  • June (27). Appears in charity performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham.
  • September (2). Dickens’ beloved older sister, Fanny, dies.
  • November (27). Stays at Bedford Hotel, Brighton.
  • November (28). Stays at Bedford Hotel, Brighton.
  • December. The Haunted Man, Dickens last Christmas book is published.


  • January (7). Sets off for a short holiday with Mark Lemon and John Leech, travelling to Norwich. Visits Norwich Cathedral and Stanfield Hall. The party then depart for Yarmouth, staying two days at the Royal Hotel.
  • January (8). In Yarmouth. Walks to Lowestoft and back.
  • January (9). Departs Yarmouth. Return to London, via Cambridge.
  • January (16). Dickens’s eighth child, Henry Fielding Dickens, is born.
  • May. David Copperfield is published monthly between May 1849 and November 1850.
  • June (16, Monday). Visits Isle of Wight. Agrees use of Winterbourne House in Bonchurch,. Writes from Shanklin to tell his daughter, Kate.
  • July – October. The Dickens family spend three months in Bonchurch, Isle of Wight.
  • November (13). Dickens attends the execution of the Mannings at Horsemonger Lane Gaol. Writes a strongly worded letter to The Times newspaper later that day.
  • November (27). Dickens visits Rockingham Castle.
  • December (27). Dickens resigns his membership of the Garrick Club (for a second time).



May (1). The Great Exhibition opens at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London.


February (14). Great Ormond Street Hospital opens in London.


October. Outbreak of the Crimean War, initially between Russia and Turkey.


March (27). Britain joins the Crimean War.
  • April (1). Hard Times begins serialisation in Household Words. it is published weekly between April and August.
  • April (24). Dickens presides at a birthday dinner in honour of William Shakespeare, held at the Garrick Club.


August (31). Severe outbreak of cholera in Soho area of London that goes on to kill 616 people. Physician John Snow discovers the disease is spread by contaminated water.


  • Dickens has a disappointing reunion with Maria Winter (Maria Beadnell).
  • June (27). Gives a speech on administrative reform at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London.
  • July – Sept. Rents a house overlooking the sea in Folkestone at 3 Albion Villas.
  • October (16) . Dickens rents the top of a house at No. 49, Avenue des Champs Elysées, Paris for six months for him and his family.
  • December. Little Dorrit is published monthly between December 1855 and June 1857.
  • December (22). Gives a reading of A Christmas Carol in aid of the Sheffield Mechanics Institute.


March (30). The Treaty of Paris is signed, marking the end of the Crimean War.
  • Dickens works with Wilkie Collins on The Frozen Deep.
  • February (8, Friday). In the morning attends meeting of the General Theatrical Fund. Afternoon visits Urania Cottage. Evening visits Adelphi Theatre.
  • March (9). Returns to London and visits the ruins of the Theatre Royal Covent Garden, destroyed by fire four days earlier.
  • March (13,Thursday). Dickens and guests watch a performance of Still Waters Run Deep at the Olympic Theatre as guests of proprietors, the Wigan family.


May (10). Members of the Bengal army mutiny in India.


August (2). Government of India Act is passed. The East India Company, the de-facto rulers of India, lose control to the British Crown.
  • August (18-20). Appears at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
  • August (21, Saturday). Dickens travels overnight by ferry from Holyhead arriving in Dublin for a tour of Ireland. Whilst in the city he stays at the Morrison’s Hotel, Nassau Street.
  • August (27, Friday). Takes a train from Dublin to Belfast. In the evening, Dickens gives his first Belfast performance at the Victoria Hall with a reading from A Christmas Carol.
  • August (28, Saturday). In the morning Dickens takes a walk from Belfast to Carrickfergus and back. Returns to give an afternoon reading of the story of Little Paul from Dombey and Son. In the evening he gives another public performance, with readings from The Poor Traveller, The Boots at the Hollytree Inn, and the Mrs Gamp episode from Martin Chuzzlewit.
  • August (30, Monday). Travels from Belfast to Cork. Gives a reading of A Christmas Carol at 8pm at the Atheneum.
  • August (31, Tuesday). Cork. Gives two more public readings at the Atheneum, at 1.30pm and at 8pm.
  • September (1, Wednesday). Travels to Limerick, final stop in his tour of Ireland. Stays at the Royal Hotel and performs for two nights at the Theatre Royal.
  • September (2, Thursday). Limerick. Writes from the Royal Hotel to his nephew describing the success of his readings in Dublin, Belfast and Cork.
  • September (4, Saturday). Dickens is back at home in Gads Hill, Kent.
  • October (3, Sunday). Stays at the Royal Hotel, Aberdeen.
  • October (4, Monday). Gives readings at John Marr’s Music Saloon.
  • October (15). Returns to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, giving readings.
  • October (21). Returns to the Nottingham Mechanics’ Institution, giving readings including A Christmas Carol.
  • October (28, Thursday). Gives readings in Leeds, performing from The Poor Traveller, The Boots at the Hollytree Inn, and the Mrs Gamp episode from Martin Chuzzlewit.
  • December (3). Dickens gives a speech at the annual meeting of the Institutional Association of Lancashire and Cheshire, held in the Free-trade Hall, Manchester.
  • December (4). Dickens attends a dinner in his honour at the Castle Hotel, Coventry.




April (12-13). The American Civil War begins following the bombardment of Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina by the Confederate States Army, and the return gunfire and subsequent surrender by the United States Army.
  • May (22). Dickens hires a steamer for the day from Blackwall to Southend. Eight or nine friends, and three or four members of his family, were on board.
  • August (3). Last installment of Great Expectations is published in All the Year Round.
  • August. Great Expectations published in volume form.
  • November (19). Charles Culliford Dickens marries Bessie Evans at St. Mark’s Church in Regent’s Park.
  • December. Dickens gives a charitable reading at the Rochester and Chatham Mechanics’ Institute.
December (14). Queen Victoria‘s husband, Prince Albert, dies aged 42.


  • March-June. Gives public readings in London.


January (10). World’s first underground railway opens in London when the Metropolitan Railway starts services between Paddington and Farringdon.
  • January. Gives charity readings at the British Embassy in Paris.
  • June. Gives public readings in London.
  • Dickens’ mother, Elizabeth, dies.
  • Dickens reconciles his friendship with William Makepeace Thackeray at the Athenaeum club.
  • December (31). His son, Walter, dies in Calcutta, India.


  • January. Dickens receives the news of the death of his son, Walter, dies in India.
  • April (12). Gives a speech in support of free health care for the poor, held at the Willis’s Rooms, London.
  • May (1). Our Mutual Friend is published monthly between May 1864 and November 1865.


May (9). The American Civil War is declared at an end by President Andrew Johnson.


  • Dickens undertakes a three month national reading tour.


  • January – May. Dickens undertakess new series of 50 provincial readings, starting at Liverpool.
  • January (17). Gives readings at Liverpool. Stays at the Aldephi Hotel.
  • January (18). Gives readings at Liverpool. Stays at the Aldephi Hotel.
  • January (19). Gives readings at Liverpool. Stays at the Aldephi Hotel.
  • March (14, Thursday). Takes a 2pm ferry from Holyhead to Dublin. Stays at the Shelbourne Hotel in the city.
  • March (15, Friday). Dublin.
  • March (16, Saturday). Dublin.
  • March (17, Sunday). Dublin.
  • March (21, Thursday). Belfast.
  • March (28). Cambridge.
  • March (29). Norwich.
  • April (1). London.
  • April (4). Gives readings at Swansea.
  • May (14). Dickens ends his reading tour after suffering from pain and swelling in his left foot.
  • June (5). Gives a speech in support of Ninth Anniversary Festival of the Railway Benevolent Society, held at the Willis’s Rooms, London.
  • November (2). Dinner held for Charles Dickens at the Freemasons’ Tavern to celebrate his second visit to America.
  • November (9). Dickens tours America for the second time, sailing for Boston from Liverpool.
  • November (19). Arrives in Boston.
  • December (7). Travels from Boston to New York.
  • December ( 9/10/12/13/16/17/19/20) Gives readings at the Steinway Hall, New York.
  • December (21). Travels from New York to Boston.
  • December (23/24). Gives readings at the Tremont Temple, Boston.
  • December (25). Travels by rail from Boston to New York.
  • December ( 26/27/28/30/31) Gives readings at the Steinway Hall, New York.
  • December (26). In England, No Thoroughfare by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, opens at Adelphi Theatre.


  • January (2/3) Gives readings at the Steinway Hall, New York.
  • January (6/7). Gives readings at the Tremont Temple, Boston.
  • January (9/10) Gives readings at the Steinway Hall, New York.
  • January (13/14) Gives readings at the Concert Hall, Philadelphia.
  • January (16/17/20/21)) Gives readings at the Plymouth Church, Brooklyn.
  • January (23/24) Gives readings at the Concert Hall, Philadelphia.
  • January (27/28) Gives readings at the Concordia Opera House, Baltimore.
  • January (30/31) Gives readings at the Concert Hall, Philadelphia.
  • February (3). Gives readings at Carroll Hall, Washington and speak. Event is attended by President Andrew Johnson.
  • February (4/6/7). Gives further readings at Carroll Hall, Washington.
  • February (7). Dickens meets with President Andrew Johnson at the White House.
  • February (10/11). Gives readings at the Concordia Opera House, Baltimore.
  • February (13/14). Gives readings at the Concert Hall, Philadelphia.
  • February (18). Gives readings at the Allyn Hall, Hartford, Connecticut.
  • February (20/21). Gives readings at the City Hall, Providence, R.I..
  • February (24/25/27/28). Gives readings at the Tremont Temple, Boston.
  • March (9). Gives readings at the Wieting Hall, Syracuse.
  • March (10). Gives readings at the Corinthian Hall, Rochester.
  • March (12/13). Gives readings at the St James’s Hall, Buffalo.
  • March (14/15). Visits Niagara Falls.
  • March (16). Gives readings at the Corinthian Hall, Rochester.
  • March (18/19). Gives readings at the Twiddle Hall, Albany, New York state.
  • March (20). Gives readings at the Music Hall, Springfield, Massachusetts.
  • March (23). Gives readings at the Mechanics’ Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts.
  • March (24). Gives readings at the Music Hall, New Haven, Connecticut.
  • March (25). Gives readings at the Allyn Hall, Hartford, Connecticut.
  • March (27). Gives readings at the Liberty Hall, New Bedford, Massachusetts.
  • March (30). Gives readings at the City Hall, Portland.
  • April (1/2/3/6/7/8). Gives readings at the Tremont Temple, Boston.
  • April ( 13/14/16/17/20) Gives readings at the Steinway Hall, New York.
  • April (18). Attends a public dinner at Delmonico’s restaurant, New York, hosted by the members of United States press.
  • April (22). Departs New York, sailing on the Cunard ship Russia.
  • May. Dickens returns to England and tours.
May (26). Michael Barrett was hanged at Newgate, the last person to be publicly executed in the UK.
  • October (15). Dickens is in Liverpool staying at the Adelphi Hotel. Writes to his son Henry about his allowance whilst a student at Cambridge University.


  • January (5). Dickens gives his first Murder of Nancy reading.
  • January (21). Gives readings at Newport, Wales.
  • January (22). Gives readings at the Assembly Rooms, Cheltenham.
  • February (4, Thursday). Charles Dickens gives reading at Nottingham Mechanics’ Institution of Doctor Marigold and Trial from Pickwick. Held at 8pm.
  • February (24/26). Gives readings at the Music Hall stage at the Assembly Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh.
  • April (5-9). Charles Dickens gives four nights of readings at the Theatre Royal in Liverpool (his last in the city).
  • April (10, Saturday). Liverpool. Banquet held in honour of Charles Dickens at St George’s Hall.
  • April (11-13). Gives readings in Dublin.
  • April (22). Whilst on a reading tour Dickens is visited in Preston by his Doctor, Mr. Beard and advised to discontinue readings.
  • August (30). Attends a dinner held by the London Rowing Club at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham.
  • Dickens begins writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
  • September (27). Gives a speech to the Birmingham and Midland Institute.


  • January – June. Dickens rents 5 Hyde Park Place from Thomas Milner Gibson as a London base.




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