The following is a detailed timeline we are compiling of the movements of the life of the Victorian writer Charles Dickens during for each year of his life, as we come across them in letters, newspaper articles and other research. We have also included some key contemporary events that occurred in society and major news events from across the world at the time.


1837.

January, 6. The first of Dickens’s 10 children, Charles Culliford Boz Dickens, is born.

January, 20. Death of the architect John Soane (born in 1753).

January, 21. Dickens is first elected to join the Garrick Club.

February. Part I (1) of Oliver Twist is published (chapters 1–2). It is the first of monthly instalments in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany, from February 1837 to April 1839.

February, 7 (Sunday). Charles Dickens’s 25th birthday.

February, 19. Death of the author, philosopher and Bishop Thomas Burgess (born in 1756).

March. Part II (2) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 3–4).

April. Part III (3) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 5–6).

March, 6. Is She His Wife?, a comic burletta and Dickens’s most risqué work, opens at the St James’s Theatre.

March, 25. Dickens moves his new family from Furnival’s Inn into new lodgings at Doughty Street.

March, 31. Death of John Constable (born in 1776), aged 60. The Suffolk-born painter was noted for his scenes of the English countryside.

April, 3. The Peregrinations of Pickwick, W. L. Rede’s adaptation of The Pickwick Papers opens as a three-act burletta opens at Adelphi Theatre.

May. Part IV (4) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 7–8).

May, 3 (Thursday). Dickens attends anniversary dinner of the Literary Fund Society. Amongst other members present were Richard Bentley, John Macrone and William Ainsworth.

May, 7. Dickens attends a production of his Is She His Wife? at the St James’s Theatre with his wife Catherine, and her sister Mary Hogarth.

May, 8. In the early hours Mary Hogarth, Catherine’s sister, is taken ill. She dies that afternoon.

May, 13. Mary Hogarth is buried at Kensal Green cemetery.

May, 24 (Wednesday). Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent celebrates her 18th birthday. A State Ball is held at London’s St. James’s Palace in commemoration. A number of celebrations are held in towns across the country. A month later Princess Alexandrina Victoria will become Queen Victoria.

May, 31. Death of the actor, comedian and dancer, Joseph Grimaldi (born in 1778). Grimaldi rose to become the one of the most popular entertainers of the Regency era. Shortly after his death, Charles Dickens is asked to write the Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi.

June, 12. Inventors William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone file a patent for their electrical telegraph.

June, 16. John Forster takes Dickens to see Othello at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Forster introduces Dickens to the actor and theatre manager, William Charles Macready, who would become a close friend for the rest of his life.

June, 20. Death of William IV (born in 1765). Victoria becomes Queen of the United Kingdom.

June, 30. Dickens visits Coldbath Fields and Newgate prisons along with friends William Macready, John Forster, George Cattermole and Hablot Browne.

July. Part V (5) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 9–11).

July. Dickens and Catherine, along with friend Hablot Browne, take a week’s long holiday across the channel, from Calais to Ghent, Brussels, and Antwerp.

July, 1. General Register Office begins the practice of registering births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales.

July, 13. Queen Victoria moves from Kensington Palace into Buckingham Palace, the first reigning British monarch to make this, rather than St James’s Palace, their London home.

July, 19. Isambard Kingdom Brunel‘s steamship SS Great Western is launched in Bristol.

July, 20. Euston Station, London’s first mainline railway terminus, is opened.

July, 24 – August, 18. The 1837 general election takes place, resulting in a Whig victory.

August. Part VI (6) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 12–13).

September. Part VII (7) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 14–15).

September, 9. John Macrone, Charles Dickens’s first publisher, dies aged 28.

November. Part VIII (8) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 16–17).

December. Part IX (9) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 18–19).

December, 7. Death of the poet Robert Nicoll (born in 1814).

? Dickens’ beloved older sister, Fanny, marries Henry Burnett.


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.