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.
February, 7. Charles Dickens’s 33rd birthday.
February, 7. The Portland Vase is smashed by a drunken visitor in the British Museum. It takes months to repair.
March, 10. A lease is granted to play cricket on part of London’s Kennington Common, a site that will become The Oval.
March, 11. In New Zealand, 700 Māori people sack the British colonial settlement of Kororāreka (later known as Russell), the start of a conflict known as the Flagstaff War.
March, 15. The first University Boat Race to use the present Putney to Mortlake course is held.
March, 14. Trial of John Tawell, for the murder of Sarah Hart by poisoning. The trial took place at Aylesbury Magistrate’s court.
March, 28. Execution of John Tawell, for murder by poisoning, in front of the County Hall in Market Square, Aylesbury. Tawell was the first person to be arrested as the result of telecommunications technology. Charles Dickens mentions him in a letter to the Daily News, published on 28 February 1846.
April, 11. Trial of Thomas Henry Hocker for the murder of James de la Rue in Belsize Park, Hampstead.
April, 28 (Monday). Execution of Thomas Henry Hocker at outside Newgate, for the murder of James de la Rue. Charles Dickens mentions him in a letter to the Daily News, published on 28 February 1846.
May, 2. The Yarmouth suspension bridge at Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, collapses, killing 79 people.
May, 19. HMS Erebus and HMS Terror with 134 men, comprising John Franklin’s expedition to find the Northwest Passage, sail from Greenhithe on the Thames.
July, 21. The Museums Act receives Royal assent, giving the town councils of larger municipal boroughs the power to establish museums.
July, 26. The passenger steamship SS Great Britain, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, embarked on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York.
Summer. Dickens works on a production of Every Man in his Humour.
September. Irish potato famine begins. It is estimated that about a million people died during the four-year famine and led to the emigration of a further million people.
September, 18. An Anglo-French blockade of the Río de la Plata formally declared, beginning a five-year-long naval blockade on the Argentine Confederation to support the Colorado Party in the Uruguayan Civil War.
September, 20. Stages Every Man in his Humour at Miss Kelly’s Theatre in Soho.
October, 28. Dickens’s sixth child, Alfred D’Orsay Tennyson, is born.
November, 3. Dickens co-founds and appointed first editor of a new morning paper, The Daily News.
December, 22–23. In the First Anglo-Sikh War, British forces defeat Sikhs at Battle of Ferozeshah in Punjab.
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.