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.
January, 5. Dickens gives his first Murder of Nancy reading.
January 13 (Wednesday). Dublin. Reading at the Rotunda (now the Ambassador Theatre), 8pm. Reads from The Boots at the Holly Tree Inn, Sikes and Nancy from Oliver Twist and Mrs. Gamp from Martin Chuzzlewit.
January, 21. Gives readings at Newport, Wales.
January, 22. Gives readings at the Assembly Rooms, Cheltenham.
February, 4 (Thursday). Charles Dickens gives reading at Nottingham Mechanics’ Institution of Doctor Marigold and Trial from The Pickwick Papers. Held at 8pm.
February (24/26). Gives readings at the Music Hall stage at the Assembly Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh.
February, 28. Death of the French writer, poet and politician Alphonse de Lamartine.
April, 16 (Friday). Gives a reading in Leeds at the Mechanics’ Institution. Reads from The Boots at the Hollytree Inn, a ‘Sikes and Nancy’ sketch from A Christmas Carol and ‘Bob Sawyer’s Party’ from The Pickwick Papers.
April, 21. At least fifteen people are killed by the collapse of machinery at Delabole Quarry in Cornwall.
April, 22. Whilst on a reading tour Dickens is visited in Preston by his Doctor, Mr. Beard and advised to discontinue readings.
May, 22. British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s opens its first store, in London’s Drury Lane.
June, 2. A riot breaks out in Mold, Wales following the trial of local colliery workers. Soldiers called in to quell the protest kill 4 people with dozens left wounded.
June, 10. An underground explosion at Ferndale Colliery in the Rhondda valley, Wales, kills 53.
July, 9. A children’s home was established in Church Street, Waterloo, by Methodist minister Thomas Bowman Stephenson. The work expands nationwide into the charity National Children’s Home (NCH) and more recently Action for Children.
August, 9. Debtors Act abolishes indefinite imprisonment for civil debt.
August, 30. Charles Dickens attends a dinner held by the London Rowing Club at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham.
September, 27 (Monday). Charles Dickens gives a speech to the Birmingham and Midland Institute.
November, 4. The first issue of the scientific journal Nature is published in London
December, 31. The half farthing coin ceases to be legal tender in the U.K.
(?) Dickens begins writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
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.