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, 6 (Thursday, Twelfth Night). Last of three reading performances originally scheduled over the Christmas period at St. Martin’s Hall, in London’s Covent Garden area. Dickens reads from A Christmas Carol and the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers, held at 8pm.
January, 14 (Thursday). Due to the success of the three Christmas performances, a further five readings are put on in January (14, 20, 28) and February (3, 10) to satisfy demand for tickets. At 8pm, Dickens reads from A Christmas Carol and the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers, again held at St. Martin’s Hall.
January, 28 (Friday). Dickens reads from The Poor Traveller, The Boots at the Hollytree Inn, and the Mrs Gamp episode from Martin Chuzzlewit, held at 8pm at St. Martin’s Hall.
February, 7. Charles Dickens’s 47th birthday.
May, 2. The Royal Albert Bridge, carrying trains over the River Tamar in between Plymouth, Devon and Saltash, Cornwall, is officially opened by Prince Albert.
May, 28 (Saturday). Final edition of Household Words is published.
May, 31. The clock tower at the north end of the newly rebuilt Palace of Westminster, London, nicknamed Big Ben after the great bell of the clock within, is completed.
July, 8. King Charles XV ascends to the thrones of Sweden and Norway following the death of Oscar I. The third monarch of the House of Bernadotte, his reign lasted until his death on 18 September 1872, aged 46.
July, 26 (Tuesday). At the Court for Probate and Divorce Causes in London, Anna Weller, wife of Frederick Dickens, oldest brother of Charles, is granted a judicial separation on the grounds of his adultery. Following the separation Fred moves to Darlington, becoming an alcoholic and dying in 1868 at the age of 48.
September, 15. Death of the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel at the age of 53.
October, 10 – 28. Dickens undertakes a short reading tour, giving thirteen readings in ten towns.
October, 27 (Thursday). Cheltenham. At 3pm, Dickens reads the story of Little Paul from Dombey and Son and at 8pm reads from A Christmas Carol and the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers. Both are held at the Music Hall.
November, 24. Charles Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species‘ is published.
December, 21 (Saturday). Charles Dickens gives a reading, the first of three over the Christmas period held at St. Martin’s Hall, in London’s Covent Garden area. At 3pm he reads from A Christmas Carol.
December, 22 (Sunday). Dickens gives a speech to help raise funds for the Commercial Travellers’ School in London.
December, 26 (Monday). On Boxing Day evening Charles Dickens gives a reading, the second of three over the Christmas period held at St. Martin’s Hall, in London’s Covent Garden area. At 8pm he reads from A Christmas Carol and the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers.
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.