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. Part 13 (chapters 33–35) of Martin Chuzzlewit published.

January, 6. A pirated version of A Christmas Carol appears.

January, 8. Dickens issues proceedings for an injunction against the publishers Lee and Haddock.

January, 10. Injunction against the publishers Lee and Haddock issued.

January, 11. Injunctions against the four other publishers for pirated versions of A Christmas Carol.

January, 18. Publishers Lee and Haddok attempt to overturn the injunction against them at a hearing at Westminster Hall. It is thrown out.

February. Part 14 (chapters 36–38) of Martin Chuzzlewit published.

February, 5. Edward Stirling’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol opens at Adelphi Theatre.

February, 7. Charles Dickens’s 32nd birthday.

February, 15. Death of Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 17 March 1801 – 10 May 1804 (born in 1757).

February, 26. Dickens travels to Liverpool with his sister, Fanny and brother-in-law. Gives a speech at the Mechanics’ Institution.

February (28). Dickens travels by train to Birmingham. Gives a speech in aid of the Birmingham Polytechnic Institution at the Town Hall. Stays over at Dee’s Royal Hotel in Temple Row.

March. Part 15 (chapters 39–41) of Martin Chuzzlewit published.

March, 8. King Oscar I ascends to the thrones of Sweden and Norway following the death of Charles XIV John. The second monarch of the House of Bernadotte, his reign lasted until his death on 8 July 1859, aged 60.

April. Part 16 (chapters 42–44) of Martin Chuzzlewit published.

April, 4. Dickens stays over at York to attend a funeral the following day.

April, 5. Dickens takes an early morning coach to Malton to attend the funeral of his friend Charles Smithson.

May. Part 17 (chapters 45–47) of Martin Chuzzlewit published.

May, 1. The Bristol and Exeter Railway opens an extension to Exeter.

May, 10. The Midland Railway is formed by a merger of the Midland Counties Railway, the North Midland Railway and the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway.

June. Part 18 (chapters 48–50) of Martin Chuzzlewit published.

June, 6. George Williams founds the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in London.

June, 15. The Factory Act imposes a maximum 12-hour working day for women, and a maximum 6-hour day for children aged 6 to 13.

July. Final parts (19-20, chapters 51–54) of Martin Chuzzlewit published.

August, 9. Imprisonment for debt is abolished in England.

August, 30 (Friday). Fire destroys part of the new Brighton and Dover Railway station at New Cross, south-east London.

September, 28. An explosion at Haswell Colliery in County Durham kills 95.

October, 28. The Royal Exchange in London is opened by Queen Victoria.

October, 28. The Royal Navy’s first iron ship, HMS Jackal (also spelled Jackall) is launched by Robert Napier at his Govan shipyard on the River Clyde, Scotland. It is followed a month later by its sister ship HMS Lizard.

December. The Chimes is published, the second of the five Dickens’s Christmas novellas.

December (2). Dickens gives a private reading of The Chimes at John Forster’s house.

December, 21. The Rochdale Pioneers open their store in Rochdale, forming the basis for the modern cooperative movement.

Dickens’s fifth child, Francis Jeffrey (Frank) is born.

Dickens and family travel to Italy for an extended stay.

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.