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.
January, 17 (Sunday). Charles Dickens finishes writing The Old Curiosity Shop.
January, 26. Britain occupies Hong Kong.
January, 29 (Friday). Charles Dickens begins writing Barnaby Rudge.
February, 13 (Saturday). The first installment of Barnaby Rudge is published. It continues to appear weekly until November 27.
February, 8 (Monday). Charles Dickens and Catherine’s fourth child, Walter Savage Landor Dickens, is born.
February, 24 (Wednesday) Dickens and Catherine visit Brighton, staying at the Old Ship Hotel.
March, 3 (Wednesday). Dickens and Catherine return to London (from Brighton). Discovers his pet raven, Grip, has died.
March, 4. William Henry Harrison is sworn in, as the ninth President of the United States.
March, 15 (Monday). Notorious Buckingham Palace burglar Edward Jones (nicknamed “the boy Jones”) is caught again inside palace grounds. Sentenced to three months’ hard labour.
April, 4. William Henry Harrison dies of pneumonia, the first President of the United States to die in office.
April, 6. John Tyler is sworn in, as the tenth President of the United States.
April, 26 (Monday). Charles Dickens visits Tothill Fields Prison, along with the novelist Francis Smedley. See’s Edward Jones, an errand-boy who became infamous for breaking into Buckingham Palace multiple times..
May, 3. New Zealand becomes a British colony.
May, 31 (Monday). Dickens writes a letter (to G. Lovejoy) from his Devonshire Terrace home declining an offer to stand as Member of Parliament for Reading.
June, 6 (Sunday). The United Kingdom Census is held, the first to record names and approximate ages of every household member, and to be administered nationally.
June (10). Dickens writes a second letter (to G. Lovejoy) from his Devonshire Terrace home declining an offer to stand as Member of Parliament for Reading.
June, 19 (Saturday). Dickens and Catherine depart London for a visit to Scotland.
June, 20 (Sunday). Dickens spends the day visitng the Smithsons at Easthorpe Hall, near Malton, Yorkshire
June, 22 (Tuesday). Dickens and Catherine arrive in Edinburgh, staying at the Royal Hotel (until July 4th).
June, 25 (Friday). A public dinner is held in Edinburgh to honour Charles Dickens. Held at the Waterloo rooms, Edinburgh
June, 30 (Wednesday). Writes from the Royal Hotel, Edinburgh to the Lord Provost of the city, thanking him and the Magistrates and Council of Edinburgh, for bestowing the freedom of the city.
July, 4 (Sunday) Dickens and Catherine depart from Edinburgh for a tour of the Highlands. They are accompanied by their London servant Tom and also Angus Fletcher, advocate. Head to Callander, via Stirling, spending the night at Stewart’s Hotel, nine miles from Callander.
July, 5 (Monday). Thomas Cook arranges his first railway excursion, in England.
July, 14 (Wednesday). Dickens and Catherine spends two nights at Melrose. During the stay they visit Dryburgh.
July, 15 (Thursday). Dickens and Catherine at Melrose.
July, 17 (Saturday). Dickens and Catherine travel back to London, spending the night at York.
July, 18 (Sunday). Dickens and Catherine arrive back in London.
October, 7 (Thursday). Dickens falls ill whilst in London.
October, 8 (Friday). Dickens undergoes an operation for the removal of a fistula.
October, 30. A fire breaks out at the Tower of London, destroying the Grand Armoury.
November, 5 (Friday). Dickens finishes writing Barnaby Rudge.
November, 6 (Saturday). Dickens checks-in to the White Hart Hotel in Windsor for rest (until 20th).
November, 13 (Saturday). Scottish surgeon James Braid first sees a demonstration of animal magnetism by Charles Lafontaine in Manchester, which leads to the study of the phenomenon Braid calls hypnotism.
November, 20 (Saturday). Dickens checks-out of the White Hart Hotel, Windsor
December, 27 (Monday). Dickens watches a performance of The Merchant of Venice starring William Macready at London’s Drury Lane Theatre.
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.