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 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.


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.

January, 30. Menai Suspension Bridge, built by engineer Thomas Telford, is opened between the island of Anglesey and the mainland of Wales. It is now considered to be the world’s first modern suspension bridge.

February, 7. Charles Dickens’s 14th birthday.

February, 11. University College London is founded, under the name University of London.

February, 24. The Treaty of Yandabo is signed, ending the First Anglo-Burmese War. The First Burma War, which had began two years earlier primarily over the control of Northeastern India, was the first of three wars fought between the British and Burmese empires in the 19th century.

March, 1 (Wednesday). Chunee (or Chuny), a famous elephant on public show at a menagerie in Exeter Exchange on London’s Strand is shot dead by soldiers after going mad. 152 musket balls were said to have been fired in order to kill the animal, who was in considerable distress.

March, 10. Death of John Pinkerton, Scottish antiquarian, cartographer, author, numismatist and historian (born in 1758).

April. A number of leading scientists form the Zoological Society of London.

June, 19. Tories under Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool win a substantial an increased majority over the Whigs in the general election.

July, 1. The Conway Suspension Bridge, built by engineer Thomas Telford, is opened in North Wales.

July, 5. Death of Stamford Raffles, colonial governor and founder of Singapore (born in 1781).

August, 10. The first Cowes Regatta is held on the Isle of Wight

August, 18. Explorer Alexander Gordon Laing becomes the first European to reach Timbuktu. He is murdered there a month later.

November, 22. The Royal Academy of Music, writes to John Dickens about unpaid fees for Fanny Dickens, threatening to withdraw her place at the school.

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.