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.


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. Dickens’s parents hold a belated birthday party for him.

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, 22. 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. 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.

August, 28. The slavery abolition act, banning slavery throughout British colonies, receives royal assent. Comes into force on 1 August 1834.

December. 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.