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 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, 7. Charles Dickens’s 35th birthday.

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, 5. The world’s first municipal park opens in Birkenhead, Merseyside, designed by Joseph Paxton (who also designed the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851).

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

April, 18. Battle of Sierra Gordo / Battle of Cerro Gordo. United States troops outflank a larger Mexican army near Xalapa, Veracruz, in an engagement during the Mexican–American War (1846-1848).

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

May, 4. Swedish singing sensation Jenny Lind, often known as the Swedish Nightingale, makes her London debut performing at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Lind was one of the most highly regarded singers of the 19th century.

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, 11. Death of John Franklin, Royal Navy officer and Arctic explorer.

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

July, 28. Dickens appears at the 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.

August, 20. Battles of Contreras and Churubusco. United States troops beat Mexican forces in engagements on the outskirts of Mexico City during the Mexican–American War (1846-1848).

September, 8. Battle of Molino del Rey. United States troops beat Mexican forces defending a heavily fortified position at Molino del Rey in an engagement during the Mexican–American War (1846-1848).

September, 12-13. Battle of Chapultepec. United States troops storm a fortress at the top of the Chapultepec hill in an engagement during the Mexican–American War (1846-1848). Chapultepec, which was home to Mexico’s Military Academy, was the last major fortified point that stood in the way of the capture of Mexico City. The following morning American forces entered the city.

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.