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.
Jan/Feb (?). Becomes engaged to Catherine Hogarth.
January, 6 – February, 6. Polling takes place for the 1835 United Kingdom general election. The results saw Robert Peel’s Conservatives make large gains, but the Whigs maintained a large majority. Peel ran a minority Conservative government until 8 April, after being unable to form a majority. Lord Melbourne subsequently became Prime Minister forming a Whig government.
January, 31.The Evening Chronicle newspaper is launched. Dickens is commissioned to write a series of twenty Sketches of London for the paper. The first, Hackney-Coach Stands appears in the first edition.
February, 5 (Thursday). Dickens visits Coldbath Fields and Newgate prisons, gathering material for his observations of London life. He is accompanied by fellow reporter and friend Thomas Beard. In the afternoon he writes from his lodgings at Furnival’s Inn to Catherine about his trip and saying he will see her the following day.
February, 7 (Saturday). Charles Dickens’s 23rd birthday.
February, 15 (Sunday). Death of Henry Hunt, radical speaker and agitator remembered as a pioneer of working-class radicalism and an important influence on the later Chartist movement. Hunt advocated parliamentary reform and the repeal of the Corn Laws.
February, 25 (Wednesday). In the evening he writes from his lodgings at Furnival’s Inn to Catherine saying he has made considerable progress with his Newgate sketch (see 5 February), ‘but the subject is such a very difficult one to do justice to’.
May, 1 (Friday). Charles Dickens is in Exeter, reporting on a political hustings in the town for the Morning and Evening Chronicle newspapers, including a speech by Lord John Russell (the then Home Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons). There is a very heavy rain that day, which soaks Dickens and fellow reporters. Later, he travels to Wincanton (Somerset), arriving at 8pm and staying overnight in the town.
May, 2 (Saturday). 9pm. Departs Wincanton on an overnight coach to London, arriving 11 the following morning. He is in a rush to beat rival newspaper The Times, with his reporting of the political speeches in Exeter.
May, 13 (Wednesday). Death of John Nash, one of the foremost British architects of the Regency and Georgian eras, aged 83 (born in 1752). Amongst his best known designs are the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and Marble Arch and Buckingham Palace in London.
May, 21 (Thursday). Bellini’s English Civil War opera I Puritani is first performed in England at the King’s Theatre in London’s Haymarket.
June, 18 (Thursday). Death of William Cobbett, journalist, author and and Member of Parliament (born in 1763).
June, 18 (Thursday). An underground explosion at Wallsend Colliery kills 102.
September, 27 (Sunday). The first of a series of twelve sketches appears in Bell’s Life in London with the publication of Seven Dials. For the series, published between 27 September 1835 and 17 January 1836 under the general title of Scenes and Characters, Dickens adopts the pseudonym Tibbs.
October. The publisher John Macrone offers Dickens £100 for the copyright of a collected edition of his newspaper sketches.
October, 7 (Wednesday). Whilst staying in Ramsgate, Princess Victoria falls seriously ill, spending the next five weeks recovering.
November, 8 (Sunday). Dickens travels from Newbury to Bristol (to report on a dinner given in honour of Lord John Russell for The Morning Chronicle).
November, 10 (Tuesday). Dickens attends a dinner given in honour of Lord John Russell at the Ivatt’s Hotel, Clifton.
November, 13 (Friday). Evening. Returns to London.
November, 27 (Friday). James Pratt and John Smith are hanged in front of Newgate Prison, London after a conviction of buggery, the last people to be executed for homosexual acts in England.
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.