The following is a detailed timeline we are compiling of the movements of the life of the Victorian writer Charles Dickens during the year 1861, as we come across them in letters, newspaper articles and other research. We have also included some key contemporary events that occurred in society.
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.
- February. Charles Culliford Dickens returns to London from working overseas, in preparation for marriage.
April (12-13). The American Civil War begins following the bombardment of Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina by the Confederate States Army, and the return gunfire and subsequent surrender by the United States Army.
- May (22). Charles Dickens hires a steamer for the day from Blackwall to Southend. Eight or nine friends, and three or four members of his family, were on board.
- August (3). Last installment of Great Expectations is published in All the Year Round.
- August. Great Expectations published in volume form.
- November (7, Thursday). First of three readings in Brighton, held at the Town Hall at 8pm.
- November (8, Friday). Second of three readings in Brighton, held at the Town Hall at 8pm.
- November (9, Saturday). Third of three readings in Brighton, held at the Pavillion at 3pm.
- November (19). Charles Culliford Dickens marries Bessie Evans at St. Mark’s Church in Regent’s Park, London.
- November (21, Thursday). First of three nightly readings in Newcastle, held at the Music Hall. Dickens gives reading of six chapters from David Copperfield.
- November (22, Friday). Second of three nightly readings in Newcastle, held at the Music Hall. Dickens gives readings from Nicholas Nickleby and the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers.
- November (23, Saturday). Last of three nightly readings in Newcastle, held at the Music Hall. Dickens gives a reading of the story of Little Paul from Dombey and Son and the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers.
- December (?). Dickens gives a charitable reading for the Chatham Mechanics’ Institute.
December (14). Queen Victoria‘s husband, Prince Albert, dies aged 42.