The following is a list of important dates in the life of the Victorian writer Charles Dickens and key contemporary events that occurred in society.


  • August (21). John Dickens was born in London, the son of William Dickens and Elizabeth Ball.


  • December (21). Elizabeth Barrow is born, the daughter of Charles Barrow and Mary Culliford.




May (11). Tory Prime Minister Spencer Perceval is assassinated



  • March. Alfred Dickens born. He died in September of the same year.



  • Letitia Dickens (1816 – 1893) born.




  • Harriet Dickens (1819 – 1827) born.

August (16). Peterloo massacre in Manchester


  • John Dickens writes a story for The Times.
  • Frederick Dickens (1820 – 1868) born.



  • The Dickens family moves to Bayham Street in Camden Town, London.
  • Alfred Dickens (1822 – 1860) born.





  • Charles’s studies continue at Wellington House Academy, but his family’s financial situation worsens and makes the costs of schooling for Fanny and Charles increasingly unbearable.


During 1827, Charles Dickens turned 15. At the time he was continuing his schooling at Wellington House Academy, London. However, shortly after his birthday the family fell behind with rent payments and were evicted. Dickens was pulled out of Wellington House, and in May, through connections made by his mother, he obtained work as a clerk at the law firm of Ellis and Blackmore at Gray’s Inn in London’s Holborn area. He would continue working here for the next eighteen months. While there, he started to learn shorthand reporting, a skill that led him into his writing career, firstly as a journalist and then as a novelist. In the evenings, Dickens enjoyed regularly attending the theatre. In November, Augustus Dickens, the youngest brother of Charles was born. His nickname in his younger years becomes the inspiration for Charles’s pen name ‘Boz‘ early on in his writing career.


  • The Dickens family moves back to lodgings above a grocer’s shop at Norfolk Street.



May (30). World’s first regular passenger train service begins, linking Canterbury to Whitstable, powered by Robert Stephenson’s Invicta steam locomotive.


  • Dickens works as a parliamentary reporter.



July (26). The Slavery Abolition Bill is passed by Parliament. It leads to the eventual outlawing of slavery throughout the British Empire.


October (16). Houses of Parliament destroyed by fire.


1835: The Municipal Corporations Act gives local councils powers and responsibilities for the provision of public utilities including gas, water supplies and sewage, police and fire units.



In January 1837, Charles Dickens and Catherine were still living in small lodgings at Furnival’s Inn when their first child, a son, was born. With the space being unsuitable to raise a family, they moved to a nearby house at Doughty Street in March. The new house would be a place of grief soon after when Charles’s young sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth, to whom he was devotedly attached, died very suddenly. In the autumn Charles stayed at Broadstairs, his first visit to the Kent seaside town which he became very fond of, and where he stayed for a number of successive years. In current affairs, Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom in June, following the death of her uncle, King William IV.


June (28). Coronation of Queen Victoria

  • September. Dickens and family holiday on the Isle of Wight, passing through Portsmouth en-route.

September (17). London to Birmingham line opens and the railway boom begins

  • October (29/30). Dickens and Hablot Browne visit Leamington Spa en route to the Midlands and Wales.
  • October (31). Dickens travels through the Midlands to Shrewsbury, staying overnight.



January (10). A new national postal service with a univeral rate, the penny post, begins. The first stamps go on sale a few months later


  • February. Barnaby Rudge. is published weekly between February and November.
  • February (8). Their fourth child, Walter Savage Landor, is born.
  • Summer. Charles and Catherine tour Scotland.


  • January (2). Charles and Catherine travel to Liverpool, staying the night at the Adelphi Hotel in preparation for their journey to America.
  • January (3). Charles and Catherine depart from Liverpool on the steamship SS Britannia to America.
  • June (7). Departs America for England, sailing in the George Washington.

June (22). Mines Act bans children under 10 from working in mines and females from working underground.

  • June (29). Returns to Liverpool and departs for London.
  • August (1). The Dickens family leave London to spend the summer in Broadstairs. Stay there two months.

August (29). The Treaty of Nanking is signed, ending the First Opium War (1839–42) between the United Kingdom and China, and ceding Hong Kong to the British Empire

  • December (6). Charles and Catherine visit the St. John’s home of the poet and friend Thomas Hood, along with friend and painter Daniel Maclise.



  • January (6). A pirated version of A Christmas Carol appears.
  • February (5). Edward Stirling’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol opens at Adelphi Theatre.
  • February (26). Gives a speech at the Liverpool Mechanics’ Institution.
  • February (28). Gives a speech in aid of the Birmingham Polytechnic Institution.
  • April (4). Dickens stays over at York to attend a funeral the following day.
  • April (5). Dickens takes an early morning coach to Malton to attend the funeral of his friend Charles Smithson.
  • Dickens’s fifth child, Francis Jeffrey (Frank) is born.
  • Dickens and family travel to Italy for an extended stay.
  • December (2). Gives a private reading of The Chimes at John Forster’s house.


  • Summer. Works on a production of Every Man in his Humour.

September. Irish potato famine begins. It is estimated that about a million people died during the four-year famine and led to the emigration of a further million people


  • January (21). The Daily News first published.
  • February (9). Dickens resigns as editor of the The Daily News.
  • April (21). Alfred D’Orsay Tennyson, baptized at the church of St. Mary Marylebone.
  • May (31). Dickens and his family set off for Switzerland.
  • June (11). The Dickens family stay at the Villa Rosemont just outside Lausanne, Lake Geneva, Switzerland.

June (30). Prime Minister Robert Peel resigns after the Corn Laws are repealed

  • October. Dombey and Son is published monthly between October 1846 and April 1848.
  • November (16). Family leave Villa Rosemont and head for France.
  • November (20). Dickens family arrive in Paris, initially staying at the Hotel Brighton and later renting a house at No. 48 Rue de Courcelles.


  • March. Charles and Catherine Dickens return to London. Rents a house at 1 Chester Place, Regents Park from March – June.


  • May (15). Dickens manages and performs at a charity night at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in aid of Shakespeare’s House at Stratford-upon-Avon.
  • June (5). Appears in charity performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor in Liverpool.
  • June (27). Appears in charity performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham.
  • September (2). Dickens’ beloved older sister, Fanny, dies.
  • November (27). Stays at Bedford Hotel, Brighton.
  • November (28). Stays at Bedford Hotel, Brighton.
  • December. The Haunted Man, Dickens last Christmas book is published.


  • January (7). 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. Return to London, via Cambridge.
  • January (16). Dickens’s eighth child, Henry Fielding Dickens, is born.
  • May. David Copperfield is published monthly between May 1849 and November 1850.
  • July – October. The Dickens family spend three months in Bonchurch, Isle of Wight.
  • 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 (27). Dickens visits Rockingham Castle.
  • December (27). Dickens resigns his membership of the Garrick Club (for a second time).



May (1). The Great Exhibition opens at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London.


February (14). Great Ormond Street Hospital opens in London.


October. Outbreak of the Crimean War, initially between Russia and Turkey.


March (27). Britain joins the Crimean War.

  • April (1). Hard Times begins serialisation in Household Words. it is published weekly between April and August.
  • April (24). Dickens presides at a birthday dinner in honour of William Shakespeare, held at the Garrick Club.

August (31). Severe outbreak of cholera in Soho area of London that goes on to kill 616 people. Physician John Snow discovers the disease is spread by contaminated water.



March (30). The Treaty of Paris is signed, marking the end of the Crimean War.


May (10). Members of the Bengal army mutiny in India.

  • 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.
  • Dickens meets Ellen Ternan.


August (2). Government of India Act is passed. The East India Company, the de-facto rulers of India, lose control to the British Crown.

  • August (18-20). Appears at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
  • Augsut (21, Saturday). Dickens travels overnight by ferry from Holyhead arriving in Dublin for a tour of Ireland. Whilst in the city he stays at the Morrison’s Hotel, Nassau Street.
  • August (27, Friday). Takes a train from Dublin to Belfast. In the evening, Dickens gives his first Belfast performance at the Victoria Hall with a reading from A Christmas Carol.
  • August (28, Saturday). In the morning Dickens takes a walk from Belfast to Carrickfergus and back. Returns to give an afternoon reading of the story of Little Paul from Dombey and Son. In the evening he gives another public performance, with readings from The Poor Traveller, The Boots at the Hollytree Inn, and the Mrs Gamp episode from Martin Chuzzlewit.
  • August (30, Monday). Travels from Belfast to Cork. Gives a reading of A Christmas Carol at 8pm at the Atheneum.
  • August (31, Tuesday). Cork. Gives two more public readings at the Atheneum, at 1.30pm and at 8pm.
  • September (1, Wednesday). Travels to Limerick, final stop in his tour of Ireland. Stays at the Royal Hotel and read for two nights at the Theatre Royal.
  • September (2, Thursday). Limerick. Writes from the Royal Hotel to his nephew describing the success of his readings in Dublin, Belfast and Cork.
  • September (4, Satuday). Dickens is back at home in Gads Hill, Kent.
  • October (15). Returns to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, giving readings.
  • October (21). Returns to the Nottingham Mechanics’ Institution, giving readings including A Christmas Carol.
  • December (3). Dickens gives a speech at the annual meeting of the Institutional Association of Lancashire and Cheshire, held in the Free-trade Hall, Manchester.
  • December (4). Dickens attends a dinner in his honour at the Castle Hotel, Coventry.




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). 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 (19). Charles Culliford Dickens marries Bessie Evans at St. Mark’s Church in Regent’s Park.
  • December. Dickens gives a charitable reading at the Rochester and Chatham Mechanics’ Institute.

December (14). Queen Victoria‘s husband, Prince Albert, dies aged 42.


  • March-June. Gives public readings in London.


January (10). World’s first underground railway opens in London when the Metropolitan Railway starts services between Paddington and Farringdon.



May (9). The American Civil War is declared at an end by President Andrew Johnson.


  • Dickens undertakes a three month national reading tour.


  • June (5). Gives a speech in support of Ninth Anniversary Festival of the Railway Benevolent Society, held at the Willis’s Rooms, London.
  • November (2). Dinner held for Charles Dickens at the Freemasons’ Tavern to celebrate his second visit to America.
  • November (9). Dickens tours America for the second time, sailing for Boston from Liverpool.
  • November (19). Arrives in Boston.
  •     December (2/3/5/6) Gives readings at the Tremont Temple, Boston.
  • December (7). Travels from Boston to New York.
  • December ( 9/10/12/13/16/17/19/20) Gives readings at the Steinway Hall, New York.
  • December (21). Travels from New York to Boston.
  • December (23/24). Gives readings at the Tremont Temple, Boston.
  • December (25). Travels by rail from Boston to New York.
  • December ( 26/27/28/30/31) Gives readings at the Steinway Hall, New York.
  • December (26). In England, No Thoroughfare by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, opens at Adelphi Theatre.


  • January (2/3) Gives readings at the Steinway Hall, New York.
  • January (6/7). Gives readings at the Tremont Temple, Boston.
  • January (9/10) Gives readings at the Steinway Hall, New York.
  • January (13/14) Gives readings at the Concert Hall, Philadelphia.
  • January (16/17/20/21)) Gives readings at the Plymouth Church, Brooklyn.
  • January (23/24) Gives readings at the Concert Hall, Philadelphia.
  • January (27/28) Gives readings at the Concordia Opera House, Baltimore.
  • January (30/31) Gives readings at the Concert Hall, Philadelphia.
  • February (3). Gives readings at Carroll Hall, Washington and speak. Event is attended by President Andrew Johnson.
  • February (4/6/7). Gives further readings at Carroll Hall, Washington.
  • February (7). Dickens meets with President Andrew Johnson at the White House.
  • February (10/11). Gives readings at the Concordia Opera House, Baltimore.
  • February (13/14). Gives readings at the Concert Hall, Philadelphia.
  • February (18). Gives readings at the Allyn Hall, Hartford, Connecticut.
  • February (20/21). Gives readings at the City Hall, Providence, R.I..
  • February (24/25/27/28). Gives readings at the Tremont Temple, Boston.
  • March (9). Gives readings at the Wieting Hall, Syracuse.
  • March (10). Gives readings at the Corinthian Hall, Rochester.
  • March (12/13). Gives readings at the St James’s Hall, Buffalo.
  • March (14/15). Visits Niagara Falls.
  • March (16). Gives readings at the Corinthian Hall, Rochester.
  • March (18/19). Gives readings at the Twiddle Hall, Albany, New York state.
  • March (20). Gives readings at the Music Hall, Springfield, Massachusetts.
  • March (23). Gives readings at the Mechanics’ Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts.
  • March (24). Gives readings at the Music Hall, New Haven, Connecticut.
  • March (25). Gives readings at the Allyn Hall, Hartford, Connecticut.
  • March (27). Gives readings at the Liberty Hall, New Bedford, Massachusetts.
  • March (30). Gives readings at the City Hall, Portland.
  • April (1/2/3/6/7/8). Gives readings at the Tremont Temple, Boston.
  • April ( 13/14/16/17/20) Gives readings at the Steinway Hall, New York.
  • April (18). Attends a public dinner at at Delmonico’s restaurant, New York, hosted by the members of United States press.
  • April (22). Departs New York, sailing on the Cunard ship Russia.
  • May. Dickens returns to England and tours.

May (26). Michael Barrett was hanged at Newgate, the last person to be publicly executed in the UK.

  • October (15). Dickens is in Liverpool staying at the Adelphi Hotel. Writes to his son Henry about his allowance whilst a student at Cambridge University.


  • January (5). Dickens gives his first Murder of Nancy reading.
  • January (22). Charles Dickens gives readings at the Assembly Rooms, Cheltenham.
  • February (24/26). Gives readings at the Music Hall stage at the Assembly Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh.
  • April (5-9). Charles Dickens gives readings in Liverpool.
  • April (10). Liverpool. Banquet held in honour of Charles Dickens at St George’s Hall.
  • April (11-13). Gives readings in Dublin.
  • April (22). Whilst on a reading tour Dickens is visited in Preston by his Doctor, Mr. Beard and advised to discontinue readings.
  • August (30). Attends a dinner held by the London Rowing Club at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham.
  • Dickens begins writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
  • September (27). Gives a speech to the Birmingham and Midland Institute.


  • January – June. Dickens rents 5 Hyde Park Place from Thomas Milner Gibson as a London base.