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.


February, 6. Stamford Raffles founds the city-state of Singapore as a trading post for the East India Company.

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

February, 8. Birth of John Ruskin, writer, artist and social critic (died 1900).

February, 19. William Smith discovers the South Shetland Islands in the Antarctic

March, 20. The Burlington Arcade opens in London.

April, 14. The streets of Birmingham are lit by gas for the first time by the Birmingham Gas Light and Coke Company.

May, 24. Birth of Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent (later Queen Victoria) at Kensington Palace, London.

June. Walter Scott’s historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor is published.

June, 20. The Savannah becomes the first paddleship steamer to cross the Atlantic Ocean following a journey from America to Kinsale in Ireland, before finally docking at Liverpool. However for almost the entire voyage of just over 27 days the ship relied on sail power.

June, 24. Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent (later Queen Victoria) is baptised.

August, 16. Peterloo Massacre. At St. Peter’s Field in Manchester, a cavalry charge into a crowd of radical protesters results in eleven deaths and over 400 injuries.

August, 25. Death of James Watt, Scottish-born inventor (born in 1736).

August, 26. Birth of Prince Albert at Schloss Rosenau, near Coburg, Germany, the second son of Ernest III, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and his first wife, Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.

November. Stamp Act introduced. Fearing the spread of radical ideas in a time of increasing unrest, the government tries to limit the circulation of periodicals by taxing publications appearing at least once a month.

November, 22. Death of John Stackhouse, English botanist and phycologist (born in 1742).

November, 22. Birth of George Eliot (real name Mary Ann Evans), novelist (died 1880).

December. Walter Scott”s historical novel Ivanhoe is published. It tells the tale of a twelfth-century crusader returning to England.

December, 31. John Booth and Thomas Wildish are hanged at London’s Newgate Prison; Booth for embezzling and Wildish for passing off forged notes.

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.