Liverpool is a major city and metropolitan area in the north-west of England. The city dates back to a Royal Charter from King John in 1207, and became a city in 1880. In 1889, it became a county borough independent of the county of Lancashire. Large volumes of trade passing through the ports of Liverpool saw a huge expansion of the city throughout the Industrial Revolution. In 1830, Liverpool became a terminus for first successful passenger-carrying railway in the world, through the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The port was also a major passenger terminal for transatlantic routes, with both the Cunard and White Star Line companies based there.

The Victorian author Charles Dickens enjoyed a rich association with the city of Liverpool during his lifetime. He gave a number of readings in the city, both for charity and as part of commercial tours. He visited the area as part of research for articles and for both of his tours of America he both departed from, and returned to Liverpool. One of Dickens’s tour managers, George Dolby, said that Liverpool was his favourite place outside of London to visit, and that the town’s Adelphi was his favourite regional hotel.

Liverpool was grateful for the contribution Charles Dickens made to the city and in the year before his death held a huge banquet in his honour, the Mayor even allowing his carriage to be used to transport Dickens to the venue.

We have attempted to put together the movements of Dickens whilst in Liverpool during his numerous visits based on material such as letters, newspaper reports and articles. There are some small gaps, and we would be grateful for any information to make it into a comprehensive list.


Dickens first known visit to Liverpool was during a visit with his friend, the illustrator Hablot K. Browne (‘Phiz’) in October of 1838. The two had made a short holiday, journeying to Liverpool via Leamington Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon, Shrewsbury and north Wales. Browne wanted to visit his son Edgar, who lived in the town, at the end of the trip. Dickens stayed at the Adelphi Hotel, his first time at what would become his favourite hotel in Liverpool.



For the first six months of 1842, Charles Dickens toured North America travelling with wife Catherine on the first of what would be two visits the author made to the continent. Aged just 29, he was already very famous both in the U.K. and across the Atlantic.

  • January, 2. Charles and Catherine travel to Liverpool, staying the night at the Adelphi Hotel in preparation for their journey.
  • January, 3. The couple departs from Liverpool on the Royal Mail steam-ship Britannia. The Liverpool Standard newspaper reported at the time that:

A great many persons were on the pier-bead to see Mr. Dickens off; in fact, he was quite the cynosure of all eyes; we are certain there was not one present who did not heartily wish to have shaken him by the hand, and bid him “bon voyage”


On the 7 June 1842, Charles Dickens and Catherine departed America for England, sailing in the packet-ship George Washington from New York. The ship, under the command of a Captain Burrows, arrived in Liverpool on Wednesday, 29 June. Dickens didn’t stay over, choosing instead to depart immediately for his home in London


February, 26 (Monday). Charles Dickens visits Liverpool to give a speech in aid of the Liverpool Mechanics’ Institution. Arrives in the city with his sister, Fanny and brother-in-law, Henry Burnett. The address is given at the Institution’s premises in Mount Street at 7pm. This annual meeting of the institution, normally held around Christmas, had been held over to accommodate Dickens timetable.

MECHANICS’ INSTITUTION SOIREE. The annual soiree of the members and subscribers of the Mechanics’ Institution was held last night … Shortly after seven o’clock, CHARLES DICKENS, Esq., who, it had been announced, would take the chair, entered with several gentlemen supporters of the institution; and, amidst great applause, addressed the meeting. He alluded to the spirit with which the institution had been carried on, tracing, in that bold graphic style so prominently displayed in his works, its rise and progress.

Liverpool Standard and General Commercial Advertiser. Tuesday, 27 February 1844.


July, 28. Charles Dickens appeared at the Theatre Royal as a performer in an amateur performance of the 1598 play Every Man In His Humour. Aided by William Charles Macready, Charles Dickens and his friends had originally mounted a benefit production of Every Man In His Humour in London in 1845. Dickens took the role of Bobadill; the noted illustrator George Cruikshank was Cob; and his best friend John Forster played Kitely. The production was successful enough to be repeated three or four times over the next two years including this show in Liverpool as part of a small tour (which also included a performance at the Manchester Theatre Royal in the same month).


June, 5 (Monday). Charles Dickens returned to Liverpool in June 1848 as part of small tour of benefit performances to raise money for Shakespeare’s House at Stratford-upon-Avon. Other charitable performances that year were held in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Dickens produced and starred in the production, held in the Royal Amphitheatre (now the Royal Court Theatre).

AMATEUR PERFORMANCE IN AID OF THE FUNDS POR THE ENDOWMENT OF A PERPETUAL CURATORSHIP OF SHAKSPEARE’S HOUSE. Last evening a performance for the above object was given in the Royal Amphitheatre, on which occasion pieces selected were ” The Merry Wives of Windsor,” and Mr. Kenny’s farce of ” Love, Law, and Physic.” … The house was a bumper. The spacious pit, converted into stalls, was filled, as were the boxes, With the rank and fashion of the town and neighbourhood : and we heard of numerous cases in which large premiums had been given for seats. The rest of the home was equally well filled, notwithstanding the greatly advanced prices charged for admission.

Liverpool Standard and General Commercial Advertiser. Tuesday, 6 June 1848.



Dickens appeared at the Philharmonic Hall on the 13th and 14th February and performed Not So Bad As We Seem by Bulwer Lytton and his own Mr Nightingale’s Diary which he wrote in 1851 with his friend Mark Lemon.

This was a very successful trip for Dickens, he wrote to Bulwer Lytton the following day.

“I left Liverpool at 4 o’clock in the morning, and I am so blinded by excitement, gas and waving hats and hankerchiefs, that I can hardly see to write, but I cannot tell you what a triumph we had.”


Dickens returned to the Philharmonic Hall later that year on September 3rd, performing Used Up, Charles XII and Mr Nightingale’s Diary to a reported audience of 1,668 people.



Charles Dickens returned to the Philharmonic Hall to give the first of his public readings in the city. Each of the readings would last two hours, and Dickens performed them over four days on the 18th, 19th 20th and 21st of August. On his first night the hall was a sell out and Dickens performed to 2,300 people. During this tour he read from a number of his works including Dombey and Son, Boots At Holly Tree Inn, Martin Chuzzlewit and A Christmas Carol.

The itinerary of Dickens tour on this visit was as follows:

Dickens also took the opportunity to sell his books at the lectures during this tour in the city but they soon sold out, as he writes in a letter to his friend John Forster:

They turned away hundreds, sold all the books, rolled on the ground of my room knee-deep in cheques and made a perfect pantomime of the whole thing.


Dickens returned to the Philharmonic Hall on the 15th October and gave another two public performances. The itinerary on that day was as follows:

  • October, 15 (Friday). In the afternoon (3pm), Dickens gave a reading of the story of Little Paul from Dombey and Son. In the evening (at 8pm), he gives another public performance, with readings from The Poor Traveller, The Boots at the Hollytree Inn, and the Mrs Gamp episode from Martin Chuzzlewit.


March 24 (Saturday). Charles Dickens visits Liverpool Workhouse to see wounded soldiers returning from India on the ship Great Tasmania.

A report was published a few days later in the local Liverpool Mercury newspaper reporting that:

Dickens visited at the Liverpool Workhouse the invalid soldiers who arrived from India in the Great Tasmania. Mr Dickens remained for about two hours, and during that time engaged in conversation with several of the unfortunate men, in whose statements he appeared to take great interest.


Charles Dickens came to Liverpool in January 1862 as part of a national reading tour and used the Small Concert Room in St George’s Hall, which Dickens thought was ideal for his readings. On that occasion he gave three readings, ‘Bob Sawyer’, ‘David Copperfield’ and ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ he was due to give another three Readings the following day, but feeling unwell he travelled over to Birkenhead to clear his head.

The itinerary of Dickens tour on this visit was as follows:


In 1866, Charles Dickens undertook a three-month commercial reading tour around the United Kingdom. He gave five performances in Liverpool as part of this, all held at St. George’s Hall. The initial performances in mid-April were so successful that two more readings were added at the end of the month to satisfy demand for tickets. During his stay in Liverpool, Dickens stayed at the Adelphi, one of his favourite hotels. Even when he gave a reading at Manchester between his first Liverpool readings, he returned to the city to stay at the Adelphi.

The itinerary of Dickens tour on this visit was as follows:

April 11-14.

  • April, 11 (Wednesday). Dickens gives a reading at St. George’s Hall. Reads from Doctor Marigold and Nicholas Nickleby. The Liverpool Daily Post reported the following day that part of the performance was interrupted by a drunken man in the audience who was ejected.
  • April, 12 (Thursday). Dickens travels to Manchester to give a reading but travels back to Liverpool after the performance, returning to the Adelphi Hotel. The hotel lay on a late supper for Dickens and his manager, George Dolby.
  • April, 13 (Friday). Dickens gives a reading at St. George’s Hall. Reads from David Copperfield and the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers.
  • April, 14 (Saturday). Dickens gives a reading at St. George’s Hall. Reads from Dombey and Son.

April 27-28.

Two more performances were squeezed into the tour at the end of April following the success of the earlier shows.


Charles Dickens returned to Liverpool as part of his national reading tour in 1867. Again he performed at St. George’s Hall which by now his favourite venue in the city, giving a series of readings in January and returning again in February.


The itinerary of Dickens tour on this visit was as follows:

  • January, 17 (Thursday). First of three performances in Liverpool. Dickens reads Barbox Brothers and The Boy at Mugby, held in the small concert room of St. George’s Hall at 8pm.
  • January, 18 (Friday). Second of three performances in Liverpool,. Dickens reads Doctor Marigold and also the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers, held in the small concert room of St. George’s Hall at 8pm.
  • January, 19 (Saturday). Afternoon reading held in the small concert room of St. George’s Hall at 3pm. Reads A Christmas Carol.

Within days of finishing these readings, two further dates were being advertised in the local newspapers for the following month “in consequence of the great reception given”.


On Valentine’s Day, 1867 Charles Dickens travelled from Birmingham, where he had performed the previous evening, to Liverpool to give two more nights of readings.

The itinerary on this visit was as follows:

  • February, 14 (Thursday). Dickens returns to Liverpool, with the first of two nights of readings, held in the small concert room of St. George’s Hall at 8pm. Dickens reads Doctor Marigold and also the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers.
  • February, 15 (Friday). Second of two nights of readings in Liverpool, held in the small concert room of St. George’s Hall at 8pm. Dickens reads Barbox Brothers and The Boy at Mugby.


In late 1868, Charles Dickens was back in Liverpool appearing at St. George’s Hall as part of a national tour billed as the ‘farewell readings’. He performed on the 12, 13 and 14 October and also the 26, 27, and 28, where he read to packed houses.

The itinerary of Dickens tour that month was as follows:

  • October, 12 (Monday). Held in the small concert room of St. George’s Hall at 8pm. Reads Doctor Marigold and also the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers. The Liverpool Daily Post reported the next day that the:

The small concert-room in St. George’s hall was crowded to excess … We wish everyone could hear him. It will be something to boast of in after years. To see an author that has aroused a wider sympathy than any man since Shakspeare [sic] is an event altogether beyond the limit of mere curiosity.


As part of his 1868-1869 farewell reading tour, Charles Dickens gives four nights of readings at the Theatre Royal in April of 1869. They would be his last performances in the town.

The itinerary of Dickens was as follows:

April, 10 (Saturday). On 11 December 1868, Liverpool Council passed a resolution to honour Charles Dickens and his contribution to the town. The Mayor wrote to Dickens, who accepted the invitation, suggesting a date when he was in the town for a series of final readings, which had already been planned for April. The date was fixed after his final reading, and Charles Dickens was entertained at a banquet held in St. George’s Hall in his honour. It was attended by the Lord Mayor and notable local dignitaries. Dickens was transported to the venue from the Adelphi Hotel in the Mayoral carriage.


The following locations in Liverpool are associated with the Victorian author Charles Dickens during his lifetime. Click on a location to get more information and to access further pages.