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 XIV (14) of Little Dorrit published (Book 2, Chapters 12–14).

February. Part XV (15) of Little Dorrit published (Book 2, Chapters 15–18).

February. Charles Dickens obtains possession of Gad’s Hill Place.

February, 7. Charles Dickens’s 45th birthday.

March. Part XVI (16) of Little Dorrit published (Book 2, Chapters 19–22).

April. Part XVII (17) of Little Dorrit published (Book 2, Chapters 23–26).

April. Charles Dickens, Catherine and Mary spend several days at Wate’s Hotel, Gravesend while work is being done at Gad’s Hill Place.

April, 4. The Treaty of Paris ends the Anglo-Persian War, a six-month war fought between Great Britain and Iran (Persia) under the rule of the Qajar dynasty over control of the city of Herat.

Queen Victoria gives birth to her ninth (and last child) and fifth daughter, Beatrice.

May. Part XVIII (18) of Little Dorrit published (Book 2, Chapters 27–29).

May, 10. Members of the Bengal army mutiny in India.

May, 21 (Thursday). In the evening, Dickens presides at the second anniversary dinner of the Royal Hospital for Incurables, held at the London Tavern. Gives an account visit of a recent visit to the institution’s temporary hospital at Carshalton, Surrey.

June. Parts XIX-XX (19-20) of Little Dorrit published (Book 2, Chapters 30–34).

June, 8 (Monday). Death of dramatist and writer Douglas Jerrold (born in 1803), a good friend of Dickens.

June, 15 (Monday). Dickens attends the funeral of Douglas Jerrold at Norwood Cemetery.

June, 26. The first award ceremony for the new Victoria Cross medal was held at a ceremony in Hyde Park, London. Queen Victoria invested 62 Crimean recipients.

June, 30 (Tuesday). Dickens gives a reading of A Christmas Carol to raise funds for the widow and family of Douglas Jerrold, a good friend of Dickens who died on 8 June. The reading, to a packed audience, is held at St. Martin’s Hall, London.

July, 14 (Tuesday). The prison hulk HMS Defence catches fire at her moorings off Woolwich. The event brings an end to the use of such hulks in home waters.

Summer. Hans Christian Anderson visits Dickens at Gad’s Hill Place.

Summer. Visits Canning Town. Describes the squalid conditions he finds there in an article entitled Londoners over the border, published in Household Words on 12 September.

Autumn (?). Charles Dickens meets Ellen Ternan.

November (5, Thursday). Dickens attends the fourth anniversary dinner of the Warehousemen and Clerks Schools, held at the London Tavern. Gives an address.

December, 15. Charles Dickens gives a reading of A Christmas Carol at the Corn Exchange, Coventry in aid of the Coventry Institute.

December, 27. Charles Dickens gives a charitable reading for the Rochester and Chatham Mechanics’ Institute.

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.