The following is a detailed timeline we are compiling of the movements of the life of the Victorian writer Charles Dickens during 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.


1852.

January, 3 (Saturday). 93rd edition of Household Words is published.

January, 6 (Tuesday). Death of the French educator Louis Braille (born in 1809). Braille invented the reading and writing system for use by visually impaired people that was named after him, a system that remains virtually unchanged to this day.

January, 10 (Saturday). 94th edition of Household Words is published.

January, 17 (Saturday). 95th edition of Household Words is published.

January, 24 (Saturday). 96th edition of Household Words is published.

January, 31 (Saturday). 97th edition of Household Words is published.

February, 3. The new chamber of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in the Palace of Westminster, designed by Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin, is opened.

February, 5. A collapse of the Bilberry reservoir kills 81 people in the Holme Valley, West Yorkshire.

February, 7 (Saturday). Charles Dickens’s 40th birthday.

February, 7 (Saturday). 98th edition of Household Words is published.

February, 13 (Friday). Appears at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, giving amateur performances in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art.

February, 14 (Saturday). 99th edition of Household Words is published.

February, 14 (Saturday). Appears at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, giving amateur performances in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art.

February, 14 (Saturday). Great Ormond Street Hospital opens in London.

February, 21 (Saturday). 100th edition of Household Words is published.

February, 21 (Saturday). Earl Russell resigns as Prime Minister.

February, 23 (Monday). The Earl of Derby forms a minority Conservative government.

February, 27 (Friday). Prime Minister Lord Derby appoints Benjamin Disraeli as his Chancellor of the Exchequer.

February, 28 (Saturday). 101st edition of Household Words is published.

March. Part I (1) of Bleak House is published as a monthly instalment (containing chapters 1-4). It will continue to be published monthly until September 1853.

March, 6 (Saturday). 102nd edition of Household Words is published.

March, 13 (Saturday). 103rd edition of Household Words is published. It includes the article A Sleep To Startle Us.

March, 13 (Saturday). Dickens’s tenth child, Edward Bulwer Lytton (or “Plorn”), is born.

March, 20 (Saturday). 104th edition of Household Words is published.

March, 27 (Saturday). 105th edition of Household Words is published.

April. Part II (2) of Bleak House is published (chapters 5-7).

April, 1 (Thursday). Start of the Second Burmese War.

April, 3. (Saturday). 106th edition of Household Words is published. It includes the article Drooping Buds.

April, 10. (Saturday). 107th edition of Household Words is published.

April, 17. (Saturday). 108th edition of Household Words is published.

April, 24. (Saturday). 109th edition of Household Words is published.

May. Part III (3) of Bleak House is published (chapters 8-10).

May, 1. (Saturday). 110th edition of Household Words is published.

May, 8. (Saturday). 111th edition of Household Words is published.

May (12, Wednesday). Birmingham. Gives amateur performance at the Town Hall in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art.

May (13, Thursday). Birmingham. Gives amateur performance at the Town Hall in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art.

May, 15. (Saturday). 112th edition of Household Words is published.

May, 17 (Monday). Shrewsbury. Dickens gives an amateur performance at the Music Hall in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art.

May, 22. (Saturday). 113th edition of Household Words is published.

May, 29. (Saturday). 114th edition of Household Words is published.

May, 29 (Saturday). Swedish operatic soprano Jenny Lind concludes a successful concert tour of the United States, under the management of showman P. T. Barnum, departing by ship from New York to England.

June. Part IV (4) of Bleak House is published (chapters 11-13).

June, 5 (Saturday). 115th edition of Household Words is published.

June, 12 (Saturday). 116th edition of Household Words is published.

June, 14 (Monday). Dickens presides at the Ninth Anniversary dinner of the Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Institution, held at the London Tavern. Joseph Paxton is also in attendance [read speech].

June, 19 (Saturday). 117th edition of Household Words is published.

June, 21 (Monday). The trial begins of the English Catholic theologian and poet Cardinal John Henry Newman for the defamation of Giacinto Achilli in London.

June, 25 (Friday). Cardinal John Henry Newman is found guilty of the defamation of Giacinto Achilli (see 21 June). He is fined a substantial amount, which was immediately paid from of a fund organised by a defence committee.

June, 26 (Saturday). 118th edition of Household Words is published.

June, 29 (Tuesday). A Protestant-Catholic riot breaks out in Stockport.

July. Part V (5) of Bleak House is published (chapters 14-16).

July – October. Dickens rents a property over the Summer at Camden Crescent, Dover. The stay is interrupted by a tour with amateur players, taking in London, Nottingham, Derby, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Sunderland, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art.

July, 3 (Saturday). 119th edition of Household Words is published.

July, 7-31. United Kingdom general election. Lord Derby retains power.

July, 9 (Friday). Dickens writes from Tavistock House to the Governors of the Foundling Hospital aiming to secure a position for Georgiana Morson, matron of Urania Cottage.

July, 10 (Saturday). 120th edition of Household Words is published.

July, 10 (Saturday). 121st edition of Household Words is published.

July, 10 (Saturday). 122nd edition of Household Words is published.

July, 31 (Saturday). 123rd edition of Household Words is published.

August. Part VI (6) of Bleak House is published (chapters 17-19).

August, 7 (Saturday). 124th edition of Household Words is published.

August, 14 (Saturday). 125th edition of Household Words is published.

August, 20 (Friday). In the United States, the steamboat Atlantic collides with the steamer Ogdensburg on Lake Erie, sinking with the loss of between 150 and 300 lives.

August, 20 (Friday). Manchester. At a special sessions for the granting of playhouse licences, Charles Dickens is granted a licence to give his amateur performance in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art at the Free Trade Hall (on 1 September), despite the objections of the proprietor of the town’s Theatre Royal. Dickens is not present at the hearing, being represented by a Mr. Shipman.

August, 21 (Saturday). 126th edition of Household Words is published.

August, 23 (Monday). Nottingham. Charles Dickens gives an amateur performance in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art.

August, 26 (Thursday). Derby. Charles Dickens gives an amateur performance at the Mechanics’ Institute Lecture Hall in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art. Stays at the Royal Hotel.

August, 27 (Friday). Newcastle. Charles Dickens gives an amateur performance of ‘Not So Bad As We Seem‘ and ‘Mr. Nightingale’s Diary‘ in the Assembly Rooms, held in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art.

August, 28 (Saturday). Sunderland. Charles Dickens gives an amateur performance in the Concert Hall of the Lyceum Theatre, Lambton Street at 7pm in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art.

August, 28. (Saturday). 127th edition of Household Words is published.

August, 30 (Monday). Sheffield. Charles Dickens gives an amateur performance at the Music Hall, Surrey Street in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art. Stays over at the Royal Hotel in the Haymarket.

August, 31 (Tuesday). Charles Dickens and his amateur theatrical group travel from Sheffield to Manchester. A banquet is put on for Dickens and his amateur players, held at the Athenaeum.

September. Part VII (7) of Bleak House is published (chapters 20-22).

September, 1 (Wednesday). Manchester. Charles Dickens gives an amateur performance at the Free Trade Hall in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art.

THE DRAMATIC PERFORMANCE IN THE FREE TRADE HALL. We do not remember to have been present at a more perfect performance, taken as a whole, than that to which we gained admission, common with thousands of our fellow-townsmen and strangers from a distance, on Wednesday evening, in the Free Trade Hall. The enthusiastic welcome which the noble band of friends had received on the previous night, within the walls of the Athenaeum, from a smaller company, was repeated with all the accessories of demonstration which could flow from greatly increased numbers and they seemed to reciprocate the kindly feeling by exerting their powers the utmost, and giving life and vitality to their acting that was readily recognised. The aspect of the Hall was most attractive, for in every part it was crowded from the front row of the reserved seats to the uttermost limit of the lowest priced places; and. speaking from memory, we should think the audience the largest the amateurs have ever had in Manchester, either before or since their association as a Guild. The front of the reserved seats contained many distinguished personages, including the Earl of Shaftesbury, and Sir E. B. Lytton, the Mayor of Manchester, and others.

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser. Saturday, 4 September 1852.

September, 2 (Thursday). A public library opens in Campfield, Manchester, the first to offer free lending under the 1850 Public Libraries Act. Charles Dickens is at the ceremony, along with members of his amateur theatrical group that were touring in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art, and gives a short speech.

September, 3 (Friday). Charles Dickens gives an amateur performance at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in aid of the Guild of Literature and Art.

September, 4 (Saturday). Charles Dickens and his amateur theatrical group return to London.

September, 4 (Saturday). 128th edition of Household Words is published.

September, 11 (Saturday). 129th edition of Household Words is published.

September, 14. Death of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, general and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (born in 1769).

September, 14. Death of the architect and designer Augustus Pugin (born in 1812).

September, 18 (Saturday). 130th edition of Household Words is published.

September, 24. The first powered, passenger-carrying airship, the Giffard dirigible, travels 17 miles (27 km) from Paris to Trappes.

September, 25 (Saturday). 131st edition of Household Words is published.

October. Part VIII (8) of Bleak House is published (chapters 23-25).

October. Dickens leaves Dover for Boulogne in France.

October, 2. (Saturday). 132nd edition of Household Words is published.

October, 9 (Saturday). 133rd edition of Household Words is published.

October, 14 (Thursday). The Great Northern Railway opens its new London terminus at King’s Cross, at the time the largest station in Europe.

October, 16 (Saturday). 134th edition of Household Words is published.

October, 19. (Tuesday). The last fatal duel on English soil takes place between two French political exiles Emmanuel Barthélemy and Frederic Cournet on Priest Hill in Surrey. Cournet is killed and Barthélemy is tried for murder, but convicted only of manslaughter. He serves a few months in prison but was hanged at Newgate in January 1855 after killing his employer and an ex-policeman.

October, 23 (Saturday). 135th edition of Household Words is published.

October, 30 (Saturday). 136th edition of Household Words is published.

November. Part IX (9) of Bleak House is published (chapters 26-29).

November (1-30). England and Wales are hit by the second wettest month ever recorded with over 200mm of precipitation recorded. The figure wasn’t beaten until 1903.

November, 6 (Saturday). 137th edition of Household Words is published.

November, 13 (Saturday). 138th edition of Household Words is published.

November, 20 (Saturday). 139th edition of Household Words is published.

November, 21 (Sunday). Death of English writer Mary Berry (born in 1763).

November, 27 (Saturday). 140th edition of Household Words is published.

November, 27 (Saturday). Death of Ada Lovelace, early computer pioneer and daughter of Lord Byron (born in 1815).

December. Part X (10) of Bleak House is published (chapters 30-32).

December, 4 (Saturday). 141st edition of Household Words is published.

December, 11 (Saturday). 142nd edition of Household Words is published.

December, 17 (Friday). Earl of Derby resigns as Prime Minister, following the defeat of his budget.

December, 18 (Saturday). 143rd edition of Household Words is published.

December, 25 (Saturday). 144th edition of Household Words is published.

December, 28. The Earl of Aberdeen becomes Prime Minister, leading a Whig-Peelite coalition.


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.