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 13 (chapters 33–35) of Martin Chuzzlewit published.

January, 6 (Saturday). A pirated version of A Christmas Carol appears.

January, 8 (Monday). Dickens issues proceedings for an injunction against the publishers Lee and Haddock.

January, 10 (Wednesday). Injunction against the publishers Lee and Haddock issued.

January, 11 (Thursday). Injunctions against the four other publishers for pirated versions of A Christmas Carol.

January, 15 (Monday). Dickens’s third son and fifth child, Francis Jeffrey (Frank) is born.

January, 18 (Thursday). Publishers Lee and Haddok attempt to overturn the injunction against them at a hearing at Westminster Hall. It is thrown out.

February. Part 14 (chapters 36–38) of Martin Chuzzlewit published.

February, 5. Edward Stirling’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol opens at Adelphi Theatre.

February, 7. Charles Dickens’s 32nd birthday.

February, 15. Death of Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 17 March 1801 – 10 May 1804 (born in 1757).

February, 26. Dickens travels to Liverpool with his sister, Fanny and brother-in-law. Gives a speech at the Mechanics’ Institution.

February (28). Dickens travels by train to Birmingham. Gives a speech in aid of the Birmingham Polytechnic Institution at the Town Hall. Stays over at Dee’s Royal Hotel in Temple Row.

March. Part 15 (chapters 39–41) of Martin Chuzzlewit published.

March, 8. King Oscar I ascends to the thrones of Sweden and Norway following the death of Charles XIV John. The second monarch of the House of Bernadotte, his reign lasted until his death on 8 July 1859, aged 60.

March, 26. Mary Furley is committed to Newgate for drowning her infant son in the Regent’s Canal, London and then attempting to kill herself.

April. Part 16 (chapters 42–44) of Martin Chuzzlewit published.

April, 4 (Thursday). Dickens stays over at York to attend a funeral the following day.

April, 5 (Friday). Dickens takes an early morning coach to Malton to attend the funeral of his friend Charles Smithson.

April, 9 (Tuesday). Dickens visits the Yorkshire seaside village of Staithes, accompanied by the Marquis of Normanby.

May. Part 17 (chapters 45–47) of Martin Chuzzlewit published.

May, 1. The Bristol and Exeter Railway opens an extension to Exeter.

May, 7. The Manchester Theatre Royal is destroyed by fire.

May, 8. William Crouch is tried at the Central Crimjnal Court for the murder of his wife. The jury are locked-in overnight and return a guilty verdict the next day.

May, 10. The Midland Railway is formed by a merger of the Midland Counties Railway, the North Midland Railway and the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway.

May, 11. A huge fire engulfs the Dorset town of Lyme Regis, destroying at least 40 buildings.

May, 18. (Saturday). Naworth Castle in Cumbria is ravaged by fire.

May, 27. William Crouch is executed at Newgate for the murder of his wife.

June. Part 18 (chapters 48–50) of Martin Chuzzlewit published.

June, 1. The Emperor of Russia arrives by ship at Woolwich, from the Continent, on a visit to see Queen Victoria.

June, 4. The Emperor of Russia, along with the King of Saxony and Prince Albert, attend Ascot Races.

June, 5. A grand review is held at Windsor Great Park with Queen Victoria and the Emperor of Russia present.

June, 6. The Factories Act, one of a series of acts passed to regulate the conditions of industrial employment, becomes law. It imposes a maximum 12-hour working day for women and limits the working day for children aged 8-13 to 6½ hours.

June, 6. George Williams founds the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in London.

June, 6. Queen Victoria and the Emperor of Russia attend Ascot Races.

June, 8. The Emperor of Russia visits the Duke of Devonshire at Chiswick and Her Majesty’s Theatre in London.

June, 9. The Emperor of Russia embarks from Woolwich to return home.

June, 15. Death of Thomas Campbell, Scottish poet and academic (born in 1777).

July. Final parts (19-20, chapters 51–54) of Martin Chuzzlewit published.

July – December. Dickens and family travel to Italy for an extended stay. Upon arrival in Italy they rent the Villa di Bagnarello in Genoa (until October).

August, 6. Queen Victoria gives birth to her fourth child and second son, Alfred.

August 7. Dickens writes to Count D’Orsay, recounting his impressions of Paris (which he visited whilst travelling to Italy).

August, 9. Imprisonment for debt is abolished in England.

August, 30 (Friday). Fire destroys part of the new Brighton and Dover Railway station at New Cross, south-east London.

September, 28. An explosion at Haswell Colliery in County Durham kills 95.

October. Italy. During their stay in Genoa, the Dickens family quit the rental of Villa di Bagnarello, moving to the more luxurious house, the Villa Peschiere.

October, 28. The Royal Exchange in London is opened by Queen Victoria.

October, 28. The Royal Navy’s first iron ship, HMS Jackal (also spelled Jackall) is launched by Robert Napier at his Govan shipyard on the River Clyde, Scotland. It is followed a month later by its sister ship HMS Lizard.

December. The Chimes is published, the second of the five Dickens’s Christmas novellas.

December (2). Dickens gives a private reading of The Chimes at John Forster’s house.

December, 21. The Rochdale Pioneers open their store in Rochdale, forming the basis for the modern cooperative movement.

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.