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, 13. Death of the English cricketer Thomas Lord (born in 1755). Lord founded the famous cricket ground in St. John’s Wood, London that is named after him. It opened in the 1814 season.

February, 7. Charles Dickens’s 20th birthday.

March. Dickens becomes a parliamentary reporter for the True Sun, while continuing to work for the Mirror of Parliament.

March. Dickens writes to George Bartley, manager of the Covent Garden Theatre, requesting an audition.

March, 16 (Friday). In the House of Commons, the Factories’ Regulation Bill is read a second time. It is referred to Committee stage.

April. Dickens is given an audition at Covent Garden but on the day he was due to appear is taken ill and unable to appear.

May, 9. The Great Reform Act is vetoed by the House of Lords. Prime Minister, Earl Grey, hands in his resignation.

May, 15. Following protests and petitions, Earl Grey returns as Prime Minister. The House of Lords subsequently agrees to pass the Great Reform Act bill.

May, 23. In Jamaica, Samuel Sharpe was hanged for his part in leading a Christmas Rebellion of slaves on the Caribbean island. The uprising, which started on 27 December 1831 and ended on 4 January 1832, was brutally suppressed, resulting in over 300 people being executed.

June, 6. Death of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham (born in 1748).

June, 7. The Great Reform Act bill receives the Royal Assent, thereby becoming law, the first major reform of the election system in England and Wales. It gives the vote to small landowners, tenant farmers, shopkeepers, some lodgers and to householders who paid a yearly rental of £10 or more, essentially extending suffrage to all upper-middle-class men. It also abolishes the rotten boroughs.

July. Dickens resigns from the True Sun.

July, 19. The Anatomy Act is passed. It provides for the licensing and inspection of anatomists, and for unclaimed bodies from public institutions to be available for their dissection.

August, 7. William Howley, Archbishop of Canterbury, has his coach attacked by an angry mob on his first official visit to Canterbury because of his opposition to the Great Reform Act.

August, 16. The Forgery, Abolition of Punishment of Death Act 1832 receives Royal Assent, removing the death penalty for the offence of forgery in Great Britain.

September, 1. Reformer Joseph Livesey draws up the first public pledge of teetotalism in Preston, Lancashire.

September, 21. Death of Walter Scott, Scottish historical novelist and poet (born in 1771).

December, 8 (– 8 January 1833). A general election is held, the first under the new system of voting. The Whigs gain a decisive majority.

December. Completion of the Duke of York Column monument on London’s Mall. The statue of Duke of York on top was raised 14 months later.

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.