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, 1 (Wednesday). Dickens gives two readings in Leamington Spa. In afternoon reads from David Copperfield. In evening reads from Nicholas Nickleby and also the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers.
January, 3 (Friday). Gives reading in Cheltenham, held at the ??. Reads from Nicholas Nickleby and also The Boots at the Hollytree Inn. Macready in attendance.
January, 16 (Thursday). Hartley Colliery disaster. A coal mining accident in the coastal village of Hartley, Northumberland resulted in the deaths of 204 men when the beam of the pit’s pumping engine broke and fell down the shaft, trapping the men below.
January, 27 (Monday). First of three nights of readings in Liverpool, held in the small concert room of St. George’s Hall at 8pm. Dickens gives readings from Nicholas Nickleby and also Bob Sawyer’s Party from The Pickwick Papers.
January, 28 (Tuesday). Second of three nights of readings in Liverpool, held in the small concert room of St. George’s Hall at 8pm. Reads from David Copperfield and also Bob Sawyer’s Party from The Pickwick Papers.
January, 29 (Wednesday). Last of three nights of readings in Liverpool, held in the small concert room of St. George’s Hall at 8pm. Reads from Nicholas Nickleby and also the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers.
February, 7. Charles Dickens’s 50th birthday.
March-June. Dickens gives a series of public readings in London.
March, 1. Death of Peter Barlow, mathematician and physicist (born in 1776).
March, 15. Riots break out in Stalybridge resulting from the Lancashire Cotton Famine.
April, 3. Death of James Clark Ross, naval officer and explorer (born in 1800).
May, 1. The 1862 International Exhibition of Industry and Science opens in South Kensington.
May, 24. The new Westminster Bridge, designed by Thomas Page, is opened in London.
June, 17. Death of Charles Canning, 1st Earl Canning, Viceroy of India (born in 1812).
July, 1. Marriage of Princess Alice, second daughter of Queen Victoria, to Prince Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine.
August, 31. The last mail coach runs from Carlisle to Hawick, Scotland.
Autumn. Construction begins of the Thames Embankment in London, designed by Joseph Bazalgette.
October, 20 (Monday). Nurse Catherine Wilson is hanged at Newgate for murder, the last woman to be publicly hanged in London. A crowd of 20,000 people watch the execution.
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.