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, 14. All thirteen members of the Point of Ayr life-boat crew are drowned when it capsizes off Rhyl.

February, 28. Dickens returns from Paris.

March. Charles and Catherine Dickens return to London. Rents a house at 1 Chester Place, Regents Park from March – June.

March, 5. An explosion at the Oaks Colliery at Hoyle Mill in Yorkshire kills 73 men and boys.

April, 3. Withdraws Charley from King’s College School due to outbreak of Scarlet Fever.

April, 15. The House of Lords in the rebuilt Palace of Westminster is opened.

April, 18. Dickens’s seventh child, Sydney Smith Haldimand, is born at Chester Place.

May, 24. The Dee bridge disaster. A cast iron girder bridge across the river Dee at Chester, England, designed by Robert Stephenson for the Chester and Holyhead Railway, collapses under a Shrewsbury and Chester Railway train with five fatalities.

June, 8. The Factory Act establishes a maximum 10-hour working day for women, and for boys aged 13–18.

June, 27. Sydney Smith Haldimand baptized at the church of St. Mary in Marylebone.

July, 28. Appears at Theatre Royal Liverpool as a performer in an amateur performance of Every Man In His Humour.

August, 9. The Whig Party under John Russell wins the general election.

September, 16. William Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon is bought by the United Shakespeare Company for preservation.

November. Urania Cottage opens.

December, 1 (Wednesday). Dickens chairs the annual meeting of the Leeds Mechanics’ Institution, held at the Music Hall, Leeds. Also in attendance is the engineer George Stephenson.

December, 1 (Wednesday).The first time zone in the world is established on British railways using Greenwich Mean Time as the standard time for all railways. The exact time is initially hand-carried on chronometers.

December, 28 (Tuesday). Dickens is guest at the opening of the Glasgow Athenaeum, giving an address to a crowd of 3,000 at the City Hall.

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.