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 adult 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.


1839.

January. Part XXI (21) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 47–49).

January. Part XI (11) of Nicholas Nickleby is published (chapters 34–36).

January, 6. Ireland is struck by a damaging cyclone.

January, 19. British forces capture Aden.

February. Part XXII (22) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapter 50).

February. Part XII (12) of Nicholas Nickleby is published (chapters 37–39).

February, 4 (Monday). A National Convention of Chartists is held at the British Coffee House (27 Cockspur Street, London).

February (7). Charles Dickens’s 27th birthday.

March. Part XXIII (23) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapter 51).

March. Part XIII (13) of Nicholas Nickleby is published (chapters 40–42).

March. Visits Exeter, rents a cottage in nearby Alphington for his parents.

March, 9. The Anti-Corn Law League is founded in Manchester, England.

March, 30. Dickens chairs a dinner given to William Charles Macready at the Shakespeare Club.

April. Part XXIV (24) and the final instalment of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 52–53).

April. Part XIV (14) of Nicholas Nickleby is published (chapters 43–45).

April, 30. Charles Dickens rents Elm Cottage, Petersham (until Aug 31) and spends a lot of that summer there.

May. Part XV (15) of Nicholas Nickleby is published (chapters 46–48).

June. Part XVI (16) of Nicholas Nickleby is published (chapters 49–51).

June. A petition, signed by 1.3 million people from the Chartist movement, is presented to the House of Commons. MP’s vote, by a large majority, not to hear the petitioners.

July. Part XVII (17) of Nicholas Nickleby is published (chapters 52–54).

July, 20. Dickens is a speaker at a banquet to honour William Charles Macready at the end of his tenure of Theatre Royal Covent Garden.

August. Part XVIII (18) of Nicholas Nickleby is published (chapters 55–58).

September. Parts XIX (19) and XX (20) and the final instalments of Nicholas Nickleby is published (chapters 59–65).

September, 4. British vessels open fire on Chinese war junks at the Battle of Kowloon, the start of the three-year Anglo-Chinese First Opium War.

September, 20. Dickens finishes writing Nicholas Nickleby.

October, 5. A dinner to celebrate completion of Nicholas Nickleby is held at the Albion Tavern. Dickens is presented with a portrait drawn by Daniel Maclise.

October, 23. Nicholas Nickleby is first published in one volume. The novel is dedicated to William Charles Macready.

October, 29. Dickens’s third child, Kate Macready, is born.

November, 4 (Monday). Newport Rising. An armed rebellion of up to 10,000 Chartist sympathisers, led by John Frost, marches on the town of Newport, Monmouthshire. About 22 demonstrators are killed when troops open fire on them and the leaders of the rebellion later convicted of treason.

December. The Dickens family move into large premises at Devonshire Terrace, near Regents Park.


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.


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