In January, Dickens and Catherine were still living in the Furnival’s Inn when their first child, a son, was born. With the lodgings being unsuitable to raise a family, they moved to a nearby house at Doughty Street in March. The new house would be a place of grief soon after when Charles’s young sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth, to whom he was devotedly attached, died very suddenly. In the autumn Charles stayed at Broadstairs, his first visit to the Kent seaside town which he became very fond of, and where he stayed for a number of successive years. In current affairs, Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom in June, following the death of her uncle, King William IV.

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. Part XI (11) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 30–32).

January, 6. The first of Dickens’s 10 children, Charles Culliford Boz Dickens, is born.

January, 20. Death of the architect John Soane (born in 1753).

January, 21. Dickens is first elected to join the Garrick Club.

February. Part XII (12) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 33–34).

February. Part I (1) of Oliver Twist is published (chapters 1–2). It is the first of monthly instalments in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany, from February 1837 to April 1839.

February, 7 (Sunday). Charles Dickens’s 25th birthday.

February, 19. Death of the author, philosopher and Bishop Thomas Burgess (born in 1756).

March. Part XIII (13) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 35–37).

March. Part II (2) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 3–4).

March, 6. Is She His Wife?, a comic burletta and Dickens’s most risqué work, opens at the St James’s Theatre.

March, 25. Dickens moves his new family from Furnival’s Inn into new lodgings at Doughty Street.

March, 31. Death of John Constable (born in 1776), aged 60. The Suffolk-born painter was noted for his scenes of the English countryside.

April. Part XIV (14) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 38–40).

April. Part III (3) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 5–6).

April, 3. The Peregrinations of Pickwick, W. L. Rede’s adaptation of The Pickwick Papers opens as a three-act burletta opens at Adelphi Theatre.

April, 5. Death of John Entwisle M.P. aged 53. At the time of his death Entwisle was the Member of Parliament for Rochdale (Tory party).

April, 18 (Tuesday). Polling takes place in a Rochdale by-election following the death of John Entwisle. John Fenton is returned the following day as the new Member of Parliament, gaining the seat for the Whig party.

April, 21 (Friday). Death of John Blackburne, M.P. aged 49 at his Hampstead (London) home. At the time of his death Blackburne was the Member of Parliament for Huddersfield (Liberal, 1834-7). As an M.P., he had helped shape municipal government reforms.

May. Part IV (4) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 7–8).

May, 3 (Thursday). Dickens attends anniversary dinner of the Literary Fund Society. Amongst other members present were Richard Bentley, John Macrone and William Ainsworth.

May, 7. Dickens attends a production of his Is She His Wife? at the St James’s Theatre with his wife Catherine, and her sister Mary Hogarth.

May, 8. In the early hours Mary Hogarth, Catherine’s sister, is taken ill. She dies that afternoon.

May, 13. Mary Hogarth is buried at Kensal Green cemetery.

May. Dickens fails to meet a deadline for the next instalment (Part XV/15) of The Pickwick Papers due to mourning for his sister-in-law.

May, 24 (Wednesday). Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent celebrates her 18th birthday. A State Ball is held at London’s St. James’s Palace in commemoration. A number of celebrations are held in towns across the country. A month later Princess Alexandrina Victoria will become Queen Victoria.

May, 31. Death of the actor, comedian and dancer, Joseph Grimaldi (born in 1778). Grimaldi rose to become the one of the most popular entertainers of the Regency era. Shortly after his death, Charles Dickens is asked to write the Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi.

June. Part XV (15) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 41–43).

June, 12. Inventors William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone file a patent for their electrical telegraph.

June, 16. John Forster takes Dickens to see Othello at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Forster introduces Dickens to the actor and theatre manager, William Charles Macready, who would become a close friend for the rest of his life.

June, 20 (Tuesday). Death of William IV (born in 1765). Victoria becomes Queen of the United Kingdom.

June, 21 (Wednesday). Proclamation ceremony for Queen Victoria is held at St. James’s Palace, London.

June, 30. Charles Dickens visits Coldbath Fields and Newgate prisons along with friends William Macready, John Forster, George Cattermole and Hablot Browne.

July. Part XVI (16) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 44–46).

July. Part V (5) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 9–11).

July. Charles Dickens and Catherine, along with friend Hablot Browne, take a week’s long holiday across the English Channel, from Calais to Ghent, Brussels, and Antwerp.

July, 1. General Register Office begins the practice of registering births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales.

July, 13 (Thursday). Queen Victoria moves from Kensington Palace into Buckingham Palace, the first reigning British monarch to make this, rather than St. James’s Palace, their London home.

July, 15 (Saturday). Marriage of Letitia Dickens, younger sister of Charles, and Henry Austin, an engineer, at St. George’s Church in Bloomsbury, London. Henry Austin was a friend of Charles since childhood. John Dickens, father of Charles, is recorded as living at Edwards Street, Portman Square. The wedding was a double ceremony, with Henry’s sister Amelia also getting married.

July, 19. The SS Great Western is launched at the shipyard of Patterson & Mercer in Bristol. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel as the first steamship purpose-built for crossing the Atlantic, the Great Western was the largest passenger ship in the world from its launch until 1839.

July, 20. Euston Station, London’s first mainline railway terminus, is opened.

July, 24 – August, 18. The 1837 general election takes place, resulting in a Whig victory.

August. Part XVII (17) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 47–49).

August. Part VI (6) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 12–13).

September. Part XVIII (18) of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 50–52).

September. Part VII (7) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 14–15).

September, 9 (Saturday). John Macrone, Charles Dickens’s first publisher, dies aged 28.

September, 13 (Wednesday). Dickens’ beloved older sister, Fanny, marries Henry Burnett, a fellow musician from the Royal Academy of Music, at St. Luke’s Church, Chelsea.

October. Parts XIX-XX (19-20), a double edition and the final instalment of The Pickwick Papers is published (chapters 53–57).

November. Part VIII (8) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 16–17).

December. Part IX (9) of Oliver Twist is published in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany (chapters 18–19).

December, 7. Death of the poet Robert Nicoll (born in 1814).

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.