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.


1851.

January, 4 (Saturday). 41st edition of Household Words is published.

January, 11 (Saturday). 42nd edition of Household Words is published.

January, 18 (Saturday). 43rd edition of Household Words is published.

January, 25 (Saturday). 44th edition of Household Words is published. It includes the first part of A Child’s History of England.

February, 1 (Saturday). 45th edition of Household Words is published.

February, 1. Death of the author Mary Shelley (born in 1797).

February, 7. Charles Dickens’s 39th birthday.

February, 8 (Saturday). 46th edition of Household Words is published.

February, 15 (Saturday). 47th edition of Household Words is published. It includes the article Red Tape.

February, 22 (Saturday). 48th edition of Household Words is published.

February, 26 (Wednesday). Attends a farewell benefit evening at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane for the actor William Charles Macready.

March. Introduced to Wilkie Collins.

March, 1 (Saturday). 49th edition of Household Words is published.

March, 1. Gives speech at a public dinner honouring the retirement of the actor William Charles Macready.

March, 8 (Saturday). 50th edition of Household Words is published.

March, 15 (Saturday). 51st edition of Household Words is published.

March, 22 (Saturday). 52nd edition of Household Words is published.

March, 29 (Saturday). 53rd edition of Household Words is published.

March, 30 (Sunday). The United Kingdom Census of 1851 takes place. It is the first to include detailed ages, date of birth, occupations, and marital status of those listed. The population of the UK is revealed to have reached 21 million.

March, 30 (Sunday). The 1851 national census, taken that day, records that Charles Dickens was a visitor at 34 Keppell Street, in London’s Camden area, where his father was gravely ill. Charles remains overnight, comforting his father as he passes away during in the early hours of the following morning.

March, 31 (Monday). John Dickens, father of Charles, dies from a urethral infection at around 5am. John Dickens passed away at 34 Keppell Street, London, the home of his doctor Robert Davey, whom Charles had asked to look after his parents as their health declined. Charles was present at the death.

April, 5 (Saturday). 54th edition of Household Words is published.

April, 12 (Saturday). 55th edition of Household Words is published.

April, 14. Dickens gives a speech at the Sixth Annual Dinner of the General Theatrical Fund, held at the London Tavern. After it has ended he is told the tragic news of the death of his daughter Dora.

April, 14. Dora Dickens dies when she is only eight months old.

April, 19 (Saturday). 56th edition of Household Words is published.

April, 26 (Saturday). 57th edition of Household Words is published.

May, 1 (Thursday). The Great Exhibition is opened by Queen Victoria at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London. Half a million people are said to have filled Hyde Park to view the opening celebrations.

May, 3 (Saturday). 58th edition of Household Words is published.

May, 10 (Saturday). 59th edition of Household Words is published. It includes the article The Guild of Literature and Art.

May, 10 (Saturday). Dickens gives speech on sanitary reform at Gore House, Kensington.

May, 15 (Thursday). Charles Dickens sends his personal copy of David Copperfield to the owner of Sheffield factory William Brookes and Sons. The superstitious gesture was in return for a gift of a cutlery case he had received from the company.

May, 17 (Saturday). 60th edition of Household Words is published.

May, 24 (Saturday). 61st edition of Household Words is published.

May, 26. The first international chess tournament is held in London, organised by Howard Staunton.

May, 29. American abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth delivers a speech at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention. The speech, considered controversial at the time for Truth’s views on political equality for all women, has subsequently been entitled ‘Ain’t I a Woman?‘.

May, 31 (Saturday). 62nd edition of Household Words is published.

June, 7 (Saturday). 63rd edition of Household Words is published.

June, 14 (Saturday). 64th edition of Household Words is published. It includes the article On Duty With Inspector Field.

June, 21 (Saturday). 65th edition of Household Words is published.

June, 24. In the U.K., the Window Tax is finally repealed. The much-despised tax, introduced in 1696, was a property tax based on the number of windows in a house. It led to the introduction of the common phrase daylight robbery. To lessen the tax, many houseowners bricked-up some windows in their property, a sight that can still be seen on larger Georgian buildings in urban areas.

June, 28 (Saturday). 66th edition of Household Words is published.

July, 5 (Saturday). 67th edition of Household Words is published.

July, 12 (Saturday). 68th edition of Household Words is published.

July, 19 (Saturday). 69th edition of Household Words is published.

July, 26 (Saturday). 70th edition of Household Words is published.

August, 2 (Saturday). 71st edition of Household Words is published.

August, 9 (Saturday). 72nd edition of Household Words is published.

August, 16 (Saturday). 73rd edition of Household Words is published.

August, 23 (Saturday). 74th edition of Household Words is published.

August, 30 (Saturday). 75th edition of Household Words is published.

September, 6 (Saturday). 76th edition of Household Words is published.

September, 13 (Saturday). 77th edition of Household Words is published.

September, 20 (Saturday). 78th edition of Household Words is published.

September, 27 (Saturday). 79th edition of Household Words is published.

October, 4 (Saturday). 80th edition of Household Words is published.

October, 10 (Friday). Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert visit Manchester, where they are greeted by huge crowds. The royal procession travels through Salford to Peel Park, where Victoria makes a speech to a crowd of 80,000 people. From Peel Park the royal procession continued into Manchester.

October, 11 (Saturday). 81st edition of Household Words is published.

October, 15 (Wednesday). End of the Great Exhibition.

October, 18 (Saturday). 82nd edition of Household Words is published.

October, 24 (Friday). Two moons orbiting the planet Uranus, Ariel and Umbriel, are discovered by English merchant and astronomer William Lassell.

October, 25 (Saturday). 83rd edition of Household Words is published.

October, 25 (Saturday). Dickens writes to the Mayor of Reading, addressed from Tavistock House, about the possibility of visiting the town to perform in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art.

October, 31 (Friday). Dickens writes again to the Mayor of Reading, addressed from the Guild of Literature and Art (10 Lancaster Place, Strand, London), offering to perform in the town on Tuesday, 9 December of that year (it is later moved to Tuesday, 23 December).

November, 1 (Saturday). 84th edition of Household Words is published.

November, 8 (Saturday). 85th edition of Household Words is published.

November, 10 (Monday). Dickens performs at the Assembly Rooms, Bath.

November, 12 (Wednesday). Bristol. Dickens visits Bristol, staying at the Bath Hotel, Clifton. Performs that evening at the Victoria Rooms, Clifton.

November, 13 (Thursday). Bristol. Dickens writes several letters from his hotel at Clifton, including to his wife Catherine, and to Henry Austin.

November, 13 (Thursday). The first protected submarine telegraph cable was laid by the Submarine Telegraph Company from a government hulk, Blazer, being towed across the English Channel.

November, 14 (Friday). Bristol. Dickens gives a second perfromance at the Victoria Rooms, Clifton that evening.

November, 15 (Saturday). 86th edition of Household Words is published.

November, 22 (Saturday). 87th edition of Household Words is published.

November, 29 (Saturday). 88th edition of Household Words is published.

December, 6 (Saturday). 89th edition of Household Words is published.

December, 13 (Saturday). 90th edition of Household Words is published.

December, 19 (Friday). Death of the painter J. M. W. Turner (born in 1775).

December, 20 (Saturday). 91st edition of Household Words is published.

December, 23 (Tuesday). Dickens performs at the Town Hall, Reading in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art.

December, 27 (Saturday). 92nd edition of Household Words is published.

(?) Catherine Dickens suffers a nervous collapse and is sent to Malvern in Worcestershire for recuperation.

(?) What shall we have for Dinner?, a cookbook by Catherine Dickens is published.


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.