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.


January, 4, Jean Baptiste Gay, vicomte de Martignac succeeds the Comte de Villèle, as Prime Minister of France.

January, 22. The Duke of Wellington succeeds Lord Goderich as Prime Minister with a reforming Tory government.

February, 7. Charles Dickens’s 16th birthday.

March, 17 (Sunday). Death of James Edward Smith, English botanist and entomologist (born in 1759). In 1788, Smith had founded the Linnean Society of London, a learned society dedicated to the study and dissemination of information concerning natural history, evolution, and taxonomy. He became its first President, holding the post until his death.

April, 17 The Royal Free Hospital opens, established by surgeon William Marsden as the London General Institution for the Gratuitous Care of Malignant Diseases.

April, 27. London Zoo opens.

May, 9. The Sacramental Test Act removes most prohibitions on nonconformists and Catholics holding public office.

June, 21. King’s College London is founded.

June, 3. During the Gran Colombia–Peru War, President Simón Bolívar declares war on Peru.

June, 23. King Miguel I of Portugal overthrows his niece Queen Maria II, prompting a civil war.

July, 5. British weekly magazine, The Spectator is founded by Robert Stephen Rintoul.

July, 5. Daniel O’Connell wins the County Clare by-election, defeating William Vesey Fitzgerald. He becomes the first Catholic returned in Ireland since the 1690’s, despite being technically ineligible to sit in the House of Commons. His election eventually forcing the government to concede Catholic emancipation with the passage of the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829.

August, 11. In the English county of Suffolk, William Corder is hanged at Bury St. Edmunds for the murder of Maria Marten at the Red Barn a year earlier.

October, 25. St. Katharine Docks in London opens.

November. Charles Dickens leaves Ellis and Blackmore, taking a position of clerk at the law firm of Charles Molley, although he remains with the firm for only a few months.

November, 11. During the Greek War of Independence, the London Protocol entails the creation of an autonomous Greek state under Ottoman suzerainty, encompassing the Morea and the Cyclades.

December, 3. Andrew Jackson is elected President of the United States, defeating incumbent John Quincy Adams in a landslide.

December, 17. The trial of the case of the murderers and body snatchers William Burke and William Hare begins in Edinburgh.

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

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.