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.


1863.

January. Charles Dickens gives charity readings at the British Embassy in Paris.

January, 10. First section of the London Underground Railway opens to the public, connecting Bishops Road (Paddington) to Farringdon Street.

January, 16. Henry Fielding Dickens‘s 14th birthday.

January, 22. The January Uprising breaks out in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus, aiming to liberate the Polish–Lithuanian–Ruthenian Commonwealth from Russian occupation. It would continue until June 1864, when the last insurgents were captured by Russian forces.

February, 7. Charles Dickens’s 51st birthday.

March – June. Charles Dickens gives public readings in London.

March, 2. Clapham Junction railway station opens in London.

March, 10 (Tuesday). Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), marries Princess Alexandra of Denmark (later Queen Alexandra) at St. George”s Chapel, Windsor. Queen Victoria attends, wearing mourning black and widow”s veil to the ceremony which was her custom in the years following the death of Prince Albert (in December 1861).

March, 11 (Wednesday). Charles Dickens gives a commercial reading at the Queen’s Concert Rooms, Hanover Square, London.

March, 15. Riots break out in Stalybridge arising from the Lancashire Cotton Famine.

April, 4 (Saturday). Charles Dickens presides at the eighteenth anniversary dinner of the Royal General Theatrical Fund, held at the Freemasons’ Tavern in Great Queen Street, London.

April, 21. Charles Dickens gives a commercial reading at the Queen’s Concert Rooms, Hanover Square, London.

April, 23. Charles Dickens gives a commercial reading at the Queen’s Concert Rooms, Hanover Square, London.

April, 28. Charles Dickens gives a commercial reading at the Queen’s Concert Rooms, Hanover Square, London.

May, 6 (Wednesday). Charles Dickens presides at the thirty-fifth anniversary dinner of the Royal Free Hospital, held at the Freemasons’ Tavern in Great Queen Street, London.

June, 1. Buxton (Derbyshire, England) station was opened by the Midland Railway.

June, 5 (Friday). Charles Dickens gives a commercial reading at the Queen’s Concert Rooms, Hanover Square, London.

June, 12 (Friday). Charles Dickens gives a commercial reading at the Queen’s Concert Rooms, Hanover Square, London. It is final performance of a short season of readings held at the venue since March. At 8pm, he reads from The Seven Poor Travellers, a Mrs. Gamp scene (from Martin Chuzzlewit) and the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers..

June, 25 (Thursday). Death of the acrobat Carlo Valerio at the Cremorne Gardens amusement park in London’s Chelsea district. Valerio, aged 25, fell about 60 feet when a hook holding the cable he was walking along gave way.

FATAL ACCIDENT AT CREMORNE GARDENS.— On Thursday evening as Carlo Valerio, aged 25, was going through his usual performances on the tight rope, the rope suddenly became slack, the unfortunate man lost his balance, and fell headlong to the ground, from a height of 40 feet, alighting on his head on the gravel of the promenade. He was removed to his residence at Chelsea, and died at three o’clock next morning. At an inquest held on the body, Mr. E. T. Smith said nothing should ever induce him again to permit a performance of this kind in the gardens. The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death.”

Bell’s Weekly Messenger. Saturday, 27 June 1863.

July, 13. New York Draft Riots. In America, armed rioters clashed with Union Army soldiers in New York City after refusing Civil War conscription. The riots last three days, with up to 120 people killed.

July, 20 (Monday). Death of the acrobat Madame Geneive during a high rope-walk at a charity event in Aston Park, Birmingham. Geneive, real name, Selina Powell, also went under the title of the ‘Female Blondin’ and was six months pregnant at the time of her death.

July, 25 (Saturday). Funeral is held of the acrobat Selina Powell (Madame Geneive) at the recently opened Birmingham Borough cemetery at Witton (see also 20 July).

July, 25 (Saturday). Queen Victoria sends a letter (from Osborne House) to Charles Sturge, Mayor of Birmingham, expressing her horror at the death of the acrobat Madame Geneive (see 20 July) and urging the town’s authorities to prevent such use of the park again.

September, 13. Death of Elizabeth Culliford Dickens. Elizabeth was the wife of John Dickens and the mother of Charles Dickens.

October, 26. The Football Association is founded at the Freemasons’ Tavern in Long Acre, London.

December. The Christmas edition of All the Year Round is published. It contains the Charles Dickens short story Mrs. Lirripers Lodgings.

December, 15 (Tuesday). Charles Dickens gives a reading in Chatham at the town’s Lecture Hall.

December, 24. Death of British novelist, author and illustrator, William Makepeace Thackeray (born in 1811). Thackeray was a close friend of Charles Dickens.

December, 30 (Wednesday). Charles Dickens attends the funeral of William Makepeace Thackeray, held at Kensal Green cemetery. An estimated 1,000 mourners attend, despite a request from the family for only a small number of close friends. Also in attendance are Mark Lemon, George Cruikshank, John Leech, Horace Mayhew and Anthony Trollope.

December, 31. Charles Dickens’s son, Walter, dies in Calcutta, India.

(?) Dickens reconciles his friendship with William Makepeace Thackeray at the Athenaeum club. It will be just before Thackeray’s death.


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.