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.


  • Monarch: King William IV (reigned 26 June 1830 – 20 June 1837).
  • Prime Minister: Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (Whig party, in office 22 November 1830 – 9 July 1834).

February, 2. Captain James Onslow, in the Clio, arrives at Port Egmont to reassert British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands

February, 7. Charles Dickens’s 21st birthday.

February, 11. Charles Dickens’s parents hold a belated birthday party for him.

March, 4. Andrew Jackson is sworn in for his second term as President of the United States.

March, 20 (Wednesday). In the U.K. House of Commons, Member of Parliament Andrew Agnew secures a first reading of his proposed bill ‘to promote the better observance of the Sabbath‘. The bill is defeated at a second reading (see 16 May) but Agnew made repeated attempts to introduce it over subsequent years. Agnew’s proposed law, which would have restricted Sunday trading, employment and recreation, prompted Charles Dickens in 1836 to write Sunday Under Three Heads, a campaign pamphlet under the pseudonym Timothy Sparks.

April, 16 (Tuesday). Inquest held into the body, presumed to be Eliza Baker, at the Christchurch Workhouse, in London’s Blackfriars Road.

April, 22 (Monday). Death of Richard Trevithick, Cornish inventor and mining engineer (born in 1771). Trevithick developed the first high-pressure steam engine and built the world’s first full-scale working railway steam locomotive.

May. Charles Dickens ends his relationship with Maria Beadnell.

May, 11. The sailing ship Lady of the Lake sinks off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada after hitting an iceberg, with the loss of up to 265 passengers and crew.

May, 15. Edmund Kean, celebrated Shakespearean actor, dies aged 45.

May, 16. In the U.K. House of Commons, a second reading of a proposed bill ‘to promote the better observance of the Sabbath‘, introduced by Member of Parliament Andrew Agnew, is defeated by 79 votes to 73.

June, 20. Bellini’s tragic opera Norma is first performed in England at the King’s Theatre in London’s Haymarket.

July, 8. The Treaty of Hünkâr İskelesi creates an alliance between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire.

July, 29. Death of William Wilberforce, English philanthropist and politician (born in 1759). A social reformer, Wilberforce led a movement for the abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire.

August, 12. In the United States, the settlement of Chicago is established by 350 settlers at the estuary of the Chicago River in the Illinois Territory.

August, 28. The Slavery Abolition Act 1833, officially abolishing slavery throughout British colonies, receives Royal Assent. Comes into force on 1 August 1834.

August, 31. The chartered ship Amphitrite sinks off Boulogne-sur-Mer in France while undertaking the penal transportation of 108 British female convicts and 12 children from Woolwich to New South Wales with the loss of 133 lives; only 3 crew survived.

December. Charles Dickens first published work A Dinner at Poplar Walk appears in the Monthly Magazine.

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.