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.
January, 17 (Sunday). The sketch The Streets at Night appears in Bell’s Life in London. It is the final sketch in a series of twelve that appeared in Bell’s Life in London between 27 September 1835 and 17 January 1836 under the general title of Scenes and Characters. For the series, Dickens adopted the pseudonym Tibbs.
February, 7 (Sunday). Charles Dickens’s 24th birthday.
February, 8. First section of London and Greenwich Railway, the first steam-worked line in London, begins operating between Spa Road (Bermondsey) and Deptford stations in south-east London.
March, 6. Battle of the Alamo. In America, after a thirteen-day siege by an army of 3,000 Mexican troops, 187 Texas volunteers, including frontiersman Davy Crockett and colonel Jim Bowie, defending the Alamo are killed and the fort is captured.
March, 31. The Pickwick Papers is first published with the release of Part I (chapters 1–2). It is serialized monthly between March 1836 and October 1837.
April. Part II (2) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 3–5).
May. Part III (3) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 6–8).
June. Part IV (4) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 9–11).
June, 7. The first University Boat Race is held on the Thames in London.
July. Part V (5) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 12–14).
July, 9 (Friday). Sunday Under Three Heads, a campaign pamphlet by Charles Dickens under the name Timothy Sparks, written to oppose a proposed law prohibiting all work and all recreation on Sunday, is published.
August. Part VI (6) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 15–17).
August, 10 (Wednesday). The Morning Post newspaper publishes a complimentary review of Sunday Under Three Heads.
August, 15. Liverpool Lime Street railway station opens in the centre of Liverpool, the first grand terminus building in the world. It replaces the smaller Crown Street station.
August, 22. Dickens signs an agreement with Richard Bentley to write two novels.
September. Part VII (7) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 18–20).
October. Part VIII (8) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 21–23).
October, 2 (Sunday). Naturalist Charles Darwin returns to Falmouth, Cornwall, aboard HMS Beagle after a 5-year journey collecting biological data he will later use to develop his theory of evolution.
Autumn. Dickens’s play The Strange Gentleman and the ballad-opera The Village Coquettes are staged at the St James’s Theatre.
November. Part IX (9) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 24–26).
December. Part X (10) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 27–29).
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.