The following is a detailed timeline we are compiling of the movements of the life of the Victorian writer Charles Dickens during each year of his 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, 15. Death of Emma, Lady Hamilton, English mistress of Horatio Nelson (born in 1765).

February, 7. Charles Dickens’s 3rd birthday.

February, 26. Napoleon escapes from the Mediterranean island of Elba.

March, 6. Riots break out in London over the introduction of Corn Laws, lasting several days.

March, 13. The Congress of Vienna declares Napoleon an outlaw. Four days later, the United Kingdom, Russia, Austria, and Prussia mobilise armies to defeat him.

March, 20. The Importation Act, the first of the Corn Laws, is passed by Parliament, preventing the import of cheap foreign grain.

March, 20. Napoleon returns to Paris.

March, 23. The Importation Act, the first of the Corn Laws, receives Royal Assent, therby becoming law.

April, 10. Mount Tambora eruption. The largest and most devastating volcanic observed eruption in recorded history occurs at the Indonesian island of Mount Tambora. The death toll is believed to be at least 71,000 people, mostly through starvation. The huge discharge of ash into the Earth’s atmosphere caused global climate anomalies in the following years, leading to poor harvests and food shortages, sparking riots across Europe. The following year, 1816 was known as the year without a summer (the poor weather prompting Mary Shelly to write Frankenstein). In the months after the eruption, prolonged and brilliantly coloured sunsets and twilights were frequently seen in major cities including London, caused by longitudinal winds spreading fine particles around the globe.

April, 24. Birth of Anthony Trollope, novelist (died in 1882).

May 23. First stone laid of the new Southwark Bridge across the River Thames in London.

June, 1. Death of James Gillray, caricaturist (born in 1757).

June, 16. Battle of Ligny. In the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon defeats the Prussian army near Ligny in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. It would be the last victory in Napoleon’s military career.

June, 18. Battle of Waterloo. In the Napoleonic Wars, a British-led coalition, under the command of the Duke of Wellington, wins a decisive victory over Napoleon at Waterloo in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. News of the victory will take a further three days to reach London. The battle marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

July, 10. The Apothecaries Act prohibits unlicensed medical practitioners.

July, 15. Napoleon surrenders to the Captain of the Roysl Nsvy ship HMS Bellerophon, moored off Rochefort.

24 July (- August, 4). HMS Bellerophon anchors off the south Devon coast with Napoleon on board prior to his being taken into exile.

September, 23. In the United States, a great storm strikes New England. Analysis of the storms movement helps to give rise to the classification of hurricanes.

October, 15. Napoleon begins his enforced exile on the islsnd of Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean.

November, 3. Humphry Davy announces his invention of the Davy lamp as a coal mining safety lamp.

November, 20. The Treaty of Paris is signed following defeat and second abdication of Napoleon.

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.