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.


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). Arrives Pittsburgh.

April, 4 (Monday). Dickens arrives Cincinnati.

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

April 26 (Tuesday) – May 3 (Tuesday): Dickens at Niagara Falls.

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 4 (Wednesday) – 29 (Sunday): Dickens and Catherine visit Canada.

June, 7 (Tuesday). Departs 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, 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.