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. Tooting Cholera Tragedy. Peter Drouet’s Establishment for Pauper Children is at the centre of a national scandal after many children in his care die from cholera. The event leads Charles Dickens to write four articles over the coming months published in the The Examiner.

January 7. Dickens sets off for a short holiday with Mark Lemon and John Leech, travelling to Norwich. Visits Norwich Cathedral and Stanfield Hall. The party then depart for Yarmouth, staying two days at the Royal Hotel.

January 8. In Yarmouth. Walks to Lowestoft and back.

January, 9. Departs Yarmouth. Returns to London, via Cambridge.

January, 16. Dickens’ eighth child, Henry Fielding Dickens, is born.

January, 20 (Saturday). The Paradise at Tooting is published in The Examiner.

January, 27 (Saturday). The Tooting Farm is published in The Examiner.

March, 3 (Saturday). A Recorder’s Charge is published in The Examiner.

March, 18 (Monday). In the evening, Charles Dickens and Mark Lemon are victims of an attempted robbery whilst walking along Edgware Road. They give chase and manage to apprehend the culprit.

March, 19 (Tuesday). Dickens and Mark Lemon attend Marylebone Police Court to hear the case of the attempted robbery the previous night.

March, 29 (Thursday). The Royal Olympic Theatre is burned down by a large fire, which also destroys several nearby buildings. The theatre, located at the junction of Drury Lane, Wych Street and Newcastle Street in London, was rebuilt in several months, reopening in December.

April 23 (Saturday). The Verdict for Drouet is published in The Examiner.

May. David Copperfield is published monthly between May 1849 and November 1850.

May, 19 (Thursday). William Hamilton attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria as she rides down Constitution Hill towards Buckingham Palace. Found guilty at a later trial, Hamilton was sentenced to transportation for seven years.

June, 16 (Monday). Visits Isle of Wight. Agrees use of Winterbourne House in Bonchurch,. Writes from Shanklin to tell his daughter, Kate.

July – October. The Dickens family spend three months in Bonchurch, Isle of Wight, staying at Winterbourne House.

November, 13. Dickens attends the execution of the Mannings at Horsemonger Lane Gaol. Writes a strongly worded letter to The Times newspaper later that day.

November, 19 (Monday). In the wake of the public execution of the Mannings (see November 13), abolitionists hold a large meeting at the Bridge Hotel (near London Bridge), in Southwark calling for an end to capital punishment. The meeting is organised by the Quaker politician Charles Gilpin (1815 – 1874).

November, 27. Dickens visits Rockingham Castle.

December, 26 (Wednesday). Royal Olympic Theatre in London reopens after being destroyed by a fire on March 29.

December, 27 (Thursday). Dickens resigns his membership of the Garrick Club (for a second time).

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.