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.


1842.

January, 2 (Sunday). Charles and Catherine travel to Liverpool, staying the night at the Adelphi Hotel in preparation for their journey to America.

January, 3 (Monday). Charles and Catherine depart from Liverpool on the steamship SS Britannia to America.

January, 22 (Saturday). Charles and Catherine arrive in Boston, Massachusetts.

February, 2 (Wednesday). Visited mills at Lowell, Massachusetts.

February, 7 (Monday). Charles Dickens’s 30th birthday.

February, 13 (Sunday). Arrives New York by boat.

February, 14 (Monday). Ball at Park Theatre in honour of Dickens, attended by 3,000 people.

March, 2 (Wednesday). Visits Tombs Prison and Public Department.

March, 5 (Saturday). In the evening, Dickens travels from New York to Philadelphia, arriving 11pm.

March, 9 (Wednesday). At 6:30 pm, Dickens arrives in Washington, staying at the Fuller Hotel.

March, 10 (Thursday). Visited Capitol and White House.

March, 13 (Sunday). Dinner at the White House.

March, 17 (Thursday). Dickens visits Richmond, Virginia. Repulsed by seeing slaves.

March, 20 (Sunday). Dickens returns to Washington.

March, 21 (Monday). At 4pm, Dickens departs Washington for Baltimore, staying at Barnum’s Hotel.

March, 28 (Monday). Dickens arrives in Pittsburgh.

April, 4 (Monday). Dickens arrives in Cincinnati.

April, 10 (Sunday). Dickens arrives in St Louis.

April, 26 (Tuesday) – May 29 (Sunday). Dickens and Catherine visit Canada as part of a tour of North America.

April, 26 (Tuesday). Dickens travels from Buffalo to Niagara. They are rowed across to the Canadian side in a little ferryboat. On arriving on the Canadain side, he stays at the Clifton House near to the Falls.

April, 27 (Wednesday). Niagara Falls, staying at the Clifton House.

April, 28 (Thursday). Niagara Falls, staying at the Clifton House.

April, 29 (Friday). Niagara Falls, staying at the Clifton House.

April, 30 (Saturday). Niagara Falls, staying at the Clifton House.

May. A second Chartist petition, signed by over 3 million people, is presented to the House of Commons. MP’s again vote not to hear the petitioners.

May, 1 (Sunday). Niagara Falls, staying at the Clifton House.

May, 2 (Monday). Niagara Falls, staying at the Clifton House.

May, 3 (Tuesday). Niagara Falls, staying at the Clifton House.

May, 4 (Wednesday). Dickens and party take the steamboat Transit across Lake Ontario to Toronto, where they spend the next two nights. Stays at the North American Hotel.

May 5 (Thursday). Toronto, staying at the North American Hotel. Departs Toronoto later that evening on an overnight steamboat.

May 6 (Friday). Following a journey on an overnight steamboat from Toronto, Dickens and party arrive in the morning at Kingston, then the capital of Canada. Dickens stays at Daly’s British American Hotel.

May 7 (Saturday). Toronto, staying at Daly’s British American Hotel.

May 8 (Sunday). Toronto, staying at Daly’s British American Hotel.

May 9 (Monday). Toronto, staying at Daly’s British American Hotel.

May 10 (Tuesday). Leaves Toronto, and travels to Montreal, by steamer and partly overland.

May 11 (Wednesday). Arrives in the afternoon at Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel.

May 12 (Thursday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel.

May 13 (Friday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel.

May 14 (Saturday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel.

May 15 (Sunday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel.

May 16 (Monday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel.

May 17 (Tuesday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel.

May 18 (Wednesday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel.

May 19 (Thursday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel.

May 20 (Friday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel.

May 21 (Saturday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel.

May 22 (Sunday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel.

May 23 (Monday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel.

May 24 (Tuesday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel.

May 25 (Wednesday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel. In the evening Dickens stage-managed and acts in three plays for a private performance at the Theatre Royal, St. Paul Street (re-named the Queen’s Theatre for that one occasion), which had been rented out. The cast are officers fom the local garrison.

May 26 (Thursday). Montreal. In the evening Dickens travels to visit Quebec, taking the overnight steamer Lady Colborne.

May 27 (Friday). Spends the day at the Quebec before returning later to Montreal. Stays at Rasco’s Hotel.

May 28 (Saturday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel. In the evening the theatrical performances from three days earlier are repeated to the public with paid admission.

May 29 (Sunday). Montreal, staying at Rasco’s Hotel.

May, 29 (Sunday). John Francis aims a pistol at Queen Victoria as she rides along The Mall in London. The gun fails to fire and Francis escapes.

May 30 (Monday). Departs Montreal in the morning, travelling by ferry and train to St. Johns. At St. Johns they are entertained by the officers of the 85th Regiment. Take the steamer Burlington back to the United States (New York) via Lake Champlain.

May, 30 (Monday). John Francis returns to The Mall in an attempt to assasinate Queen Victoria again (see previous day). His pistol fires but misses the Queen. Francis is quickly apprehended by police.

June, 7 (Tuesday). Dickens and Catherine depart America for England, sailing in the George Washington from New York.

June, 13 (Monday). Queen Victoria travels on the Great Western Railway between Slough and London Paddington station, becoming the first reigning British monarch to travel by train.

June, 17 (Friday). John Francis is found guilty of High Treason at the Criminal Court for attempts to assasinate Queen Victoria on May 29 and 30. He is sentenced to death but Queen Victoria later commutes Francis’ sentence to transportation.

June, 22 (Wednesday). Mines Act bans children under 10 from working in mines and females from working underground.

June, 29 (Wednesday). Returns to Liverpool and departs for London.

August, 1. The Dickens family leave London to spend the summer in Broadstairs. Stays 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.

October, 19. American Notes for General Circulation, a travelogue detailing Dickens trip to North America earlier in the year, is published.

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.

December, 15. Pentonville prison opens to inmates.


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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