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. The sketch Mrs. Joseph Porter is published in The Monthly Magazine.

January, 12. Death of the English academic and politician William Grenville (born in 1759). Grenville was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom between February 1806 and March 1807 and oversaw the passing of the Slave Trade Act 1807, prohibiting the slave trade in the British Empire.

February. The sketch Horatio Sparkins is published in The Monthly Magazine.

February, 7. Charles Dickens’s 22nd birthday.

March, 19. The Tolpuddle Martyrs, six Dorset farm labourers, are sentenced to be transported to a penal colony for forming a trade union.

April. The sketch The Bloomsbury Christening is published in The Monthly Magazine.

April, 7 (Monday). Henry Hughes, aged 23, is publicly executed at Horsemonger Lane Gaol. Hughes, who was convicted of assaulting a child, fell to his knees and was left in this position when he was dropped to his death.

April, 10 (Thursday). The Statue of the Duke of York was raised on top of the Duke of York Column monument in London’s Mall.

April, 21 (Monday). Over 30,000 protestors gather at Copenhagen Fields in north London in support of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, a group of farm labourers from Dorset who had been sentenced to trans­port­ation (see March 19) to Australia for forming a trade union.

May. The sketch The Boardinghouse is published in The Monthly Magazine.

May, 16. Battle of Asseiceira. In Portugal, Dom Miguel’s rebel forces were defeated at Asseiceira in the last and decisive engagement of the Portuguese Civil War (1828-1834).

June. Original Papers, a short story is published anonymously in Bell’s Weekly Magazine.

June, 7 (Saturday). The sketch Sentiment is published in Bell’s Weekly Magazine.

He had a great idea of his own abilities, which must have been a great comfort to him, as no one else had.


June, 23. HMS Tartarus is launched at Pembroke Dock, the Royal Navy’s first steam-powered man-of-war.

July, 16. Lord Melbourne succeeds Earl Grey as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

August. Dickens becomes a reporter on The Morning Chronicle.

August. Dickens begins using the pseudonym ‘Boz‘ in the sketch The Boardinghouse-No. II, published in The Monthly Magazine.

August, 1. The slavery abolition act, banning slavery throughout the British Empire, comes into force.

August, 21 (Thursday). At London’s Bow Street Magistrates Court the case is heard (in private) against Squire Wovendon, an Inspector at Marylebone Lane Police Station, for his alleged rape two months earlier of a woman who was being held in custody.

September, 2. Death of Thomas Telford, Scottish civil engineer, architect and stonemason, and road, bridge and canal builder, aged 77. Amongst Telford’s designs were the Menai Suspension Bridge in north Wales and St. Katharine Docks in London.

September, 8 (Monday). Pentonville massacre. Nicholas Steinberg brutally murders his partner and four infant children at 17 Southampton Street in London’s Pentonville area before taking his own life.

September, 10 (Wednesday). An inquest is held at the Vernon Arms, Pentonville into the local massacre two days earlier. Police have to be called to disperse large crowds that had gathered outside the scene of the murders.

September (?). Charles Dickens is sent to Edinburgh to report on a political banquet given for Earl Grey, his first travel outside of southeast England.

September, 15 (Monday). Charles Dickens is present at a political banquet given for Earl Grey.

September, 18 (Thursday). Charles Dickens’ report on the political banquet given for Earl Grey three days earlier appears in The Morning Chronicle.

September, 26. The sketch Omnibuses is published in The Morning Chronicle.

Autumn. Meets fellow writer at The Morning Chronicle and future father-in-law, George Hogarth.

Autumn/Winter. Meets his future wife, Catherine Hogarth.

October. The sketch The Steam Excursion is published in The Monthly Magazine.

October, 7 (Tuesday). Birmingham Town Hall is opened. Seen as the first significant work of a 19th-century revival of Roman architecture revival the design, by architects Joseph Hansom (1803-1882) and Edward Welch (1806-1868), was based on the proportions of the Temple of Castor and Pollux in the Roman Forum.

October,10 (Friday). The sketch Shops and Their Tenants is published in The Morning Chronicle.

October, 14 (Tuesday). Charles Dickens’ review of J.B. Buckstone’s The Christening at London’s Adelphi theatre appears in The Morning Chronicle.

October, 16 (Thursday). The Houses of Parliament is destroyed by fire.

October, 23. The sketch The Old Bailey is published in The Morning Chronicle (renamed Criminal Courts for Sketches by Boz).

There is a great deal of form, but no compassion; considerable interest, but no sympathy.

Criminal Courts.

November, 5 (Wednesday). The sketch Shabby-genteel People is published in The Morning Chronicle.

November, 14. King William IV dismisses the government of Lord Melbourne, after proposals for Church reform are made. The Duke of Wellington forms a caretaker government. This will be the last time a British sovereign chooses a Prime Minister contrary to the will of Parliament.

December. Charles Dickens takes a lease on chambers (rooms) at Furnival’s Inn, Holborn with his younger brother Frederick, at a rent of £35 per year, paid in advance.

December, 10. Robert Peel forms his first government.

December, 14. In France, female impersonator and conman Pierre François Lacenaire, along with an accomplice Pierre Avril, murderers Jean-François Chardon and her mother at their apartment in Poissy. The crime influenced the Russian author Dostoyevsky, with similarities in Crime and Punishment, and mention of Lacenaire in another of his novels, The Idiot. Lacenaire and Avril were executed by guillotine for the crime in January 1836.

December, 15. The sketch Brokers and Marine-store Shops is published in The Morning Chronicle.

December, 23. Death of the English economist and demographer Thomas Robert Malthus (born in 1766).

December, 29. Parliament is dissolved and a general election is called.

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.