Rollover Information
About the Series Schedule The Archive Learning Resources The American Collection Home Search Shop
Oliver Twist Links and Bibliography The Forum A Victorian Twister game Novel to Film Oliver Twist Teachers Guide The Dickens Timeline Olivers London Whos Who Section Essays an Interviews Masterpiece Theatre Oliver Twist
A Dickens Timeline [imagemap with 9 links]

Personal Events | Professional Events | World Events

Personal Events

1812:Charles Dickens born at Portsmouth
Charles John Huffam Dickens is born on February 7, 1812, the second child of John Dickens and Elizabeth Barrow Dickens.

1817:Dickens's father, John, transferred
John Dickens, a clerk in the Navy Pay Office, is transferred to Chatham in Kent, one of many frequent relocations.

1821:Dickens begins education
Dickens attends William Giles' school in Chatham. Giles is the son of the local Baptist minister; he finds the young Charles to be a superior student.

1822:The Dickens family moves to London
In 1822, Dickens's father, John, is transferred to London. The family lives at 16 Bayham Street. Because of the family's limited financial resources, Charles is not able to attend school.

1824:John Dickens arrested for debt and imprisoned
February: Charles's father is imprisoned in the Marshalsea Prison. His wife and three of his children join him there. Charles stays with a friend of the family, Mrs. Roylance, in Camden Town.

Dickens begins work at a blacking warehouse
Charles is sent to work at Warren's Blacking warehouse, a factory which manufactures shoe polish. Dickens later describes this period of his life as one of "humiliation and neglect."

Dickens's father released from prison
After coming into an inheritance from his mother, John Dickens is released from prison, allowing Charles to resume his schooling.

Dickens returns to school
Charles begins attending Wellington House Academy in North London, where he is an excellent student and begins to nurture an interest in theatre.

1830:Maria Beadnell
Dickens meets and falls in love with Maria Beadnell, but her parents (her father is London banker George Beadnell) object and forbid the relationship. Maria is sent off to school in Paris, thus ending her courtship with Charles by 1833. She is later the model for Dora in David Copperfield.

1833:Catherine Hogarth
Dickens meets Catherine Hogarth, the Scottish-born daughter of a Morning Chronicle music critic. Dickens works as a reporter for The Morning Chronicle from 1834 to 1836.

1836:Dickens marries
On April 2, Dickens and Catherine Hogarth are married. The couple goes to Chalk in Kent for a short honeymoon.

Dickens meets John Forster
Forster is a drama critic for the magazine, The Examiner. He becomes Dickens's close friend, advisor, correspondent and biographer.

1837:Dickens's first child, Charles, is born
Charles Culliford Boz Dickens, "Charley." (1837-1896)

Mary Hogarth dies
Dickens's sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth, who lives with Catherine and Charles, is suddenly taken ill and dies in Dickens's arms in May. Dickens is devastated; he wears a ring of hers until his death.

1838:Dickens's second child, Mary, is born
Mary Dickens, "Mamie." (1838-1896)
Mary is named after Dickens's sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth,

1839:Dickens's third child, Kate, is born
Kate Macready Dickens, "Katey." (1839-1929)
Goddaughter of the actor William Macready.

1841:Dickens's fourth child, Walter, is born
Walter Savage Landor Dickens. (1841-1863)
Godson of the poet Walter Savage Landor, friend of Charles.

Dickens falls ill
In October, following a tour of Scotland with Catherine, Dickens falls ill and undergoes an operation for a fistula.

1842:American tour
Dickens and Catherine leave England on January 4, 1842, for a six-month tour of America.

1844:Dickens's fifth child, Francis, is born
Francis Jeffrey Dickens, "Frank." (1844-1886)
Godson of Francis Jeffrey, founder of the Edinburgh Review.

Genoa, Italy
The Dickens family spends the year abroad in Genoa, Italy.

1845:Dickens's sixth child, Alfred, is born
Alfred D'Orsay Tennyson Dickens. (1845-1912)
Godson of Alfred D'Orsay, a French aristocrat and writer, and Alfred Tennyson, the English poet. Dickens nicknames his fourth son "Skittles."

1847:Dickens's seventh child, Sydney, is born
Sydney Smith Haldimand Dickens. (1847-1872)

1848:Dickens's sister Frances dies
Dickens's sister "Fanny," a close friend, dies at age 38 from consumption.

1849:Dickens's eighth child, Henry, is born
Henry Fielding Dickens, "Harry." (1849-1933)
With his brother Edward, Harry will start the Gad's Hill Gazette, a family newspaper; pursue a successful law career; and be knighted in 1922.

1850:Dickens's ninth child, Dora, is born
Dora Annie Dickens, Dickens's ninth child, is born. (1850-1851)

1851:Catherine Dickens falls ill
In March, Catherine Dickens suffers a nervous breakdown.

Dickens's father dies
John Dickens, who had become financially dependent on his son Charles, dies in March. Dickens modeled the character of Wilkins Micawber in David Copperfield after his father.

Dora Annie dies
In April, Dickens's eight-month-old daughter dies.

1852:Dickens's tenth child, Edward, is born
Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens "Plorn" (1852-1902)

1855:Dickens again meets Maria Beadnell
Dickens's memories of his former romantic interest don't jibe with the chattering and frivolous middle-age woman Maria Beadnell, now Mrs. Maria Winter, has become. He models Flora Finching in Dorrit after Beadnell.

1857:Dickens meets Ellen Ternan
Ellen ("Nelly") Ternan is a professional actress, working on the Manchester performances of Dickens's production of Wilkie Collins's The Frozen Deep. Their relationship will last until Dickens's death.

1858:Dickens and Catherine separate
In May, Catherine agrees to move to independent lodgings with son Charley.

1863:Dickens's mother and a son die
Dickens's mother, Elizabeth Barrow Dickens, dies at the age of 74. His son, Walter, a lieutenant in the 42nd Highlanders, dies in Calcutta.

Thackeray dies
William Makepeace Thackeray, Dickens's close friend and rival, dies.

1869:Dickens falls ill
Exhaustion and illness forces Dickens to return home from an English reading tour.

1870:Dickens dies
On June 9th, 1870, after a day of work on his novel in progress, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Dickens dies. He is buried in the Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey on June 14th.

Professional Events

1827:Dickens begins work
Dickens is removed from Wellington House Academy and begins work at Ellis and Blackmore, an attorney's office, as a solicitor's clerk to help support his family. He finds the work monotonous.

1828:Dickens begins work as a court reporter
Dickens learns the cryptic Gurney's shorthand at Ellis and Blackmore and begins work as a freelance court reporter at Doctor's Commons.

1831:Dickens works as a parliamentary reporter
By 1831, Dickens is adept enough at shorthand to record proceedings in Parliament for the Mirror of Parliament, a paper managed by John Henry Barrow, his uncle.

1832:Covent Garden Theatre audition
Dickens, entertaining the idea of becoming an actor, arranges an audition at the Covent Garden Theatre, but illness forces him to cancel.

1833:Dickens publishes first story
In December, Dickens publishes his first story, "A Dinner at Popular Walk," in the Monthly Magazine, a journal with a circulation of about 600. Contributions to the Monthly Magazine are unpaid.

1834:Dickens works for the Morning Chronicle
Dickens becomes a reporter for the Morning Chronicle, covering Parliament and the passage of the Reform Bill.

Dickens continues to publish
Dickens publishes dozens of sketches in the Monthly Magazine, the Morning Chronicle, the Evening Chronicle and Bell's Life in London during 1834 and 1835.

1836:Sketches by Boz
In February, the first series of Sketches by Boz, a collection of writings, is published with illustrations by George Cruikshank. "Boz" was a pen name Dickens used early on; it came from the nickname Dickens gave his younger brother Augustus -- Moses. As a child, Augustus pronounced the name "Boses," which was ultimately shortened to "Boz."

The Pickwick Papers
In March, Dickens's first monthly serial, The Pickwick Papers, begins its run (concluding in November of 1837). Originally a series of comic sketches, it evolves into a loosely structured novel. After a shaky start, it becomes a huge success.

1837:Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist begins publication in Bentley's Miscellany in February; it concludes its 24 installments in April of 1839. Dickens is editor of Bentley's from January of 1837 to February of 1839.

1839:Nicholas Nickleby
Beginning publication serially in March, Nicholas Nickleby is an exposé of schools that were little more than dumping grounds for unwanted children.

Dickens's fame grows
Dickens is a member of both the Garrick Club (a London men's club) and the Atheneum Club (for scholarly and eminent men); his circle of friends includes William Harrison Ainsworth, George Cruikshank, actor W. C. Macready, painter Daniel Maclise and John Forster.

1840:The Old Curiosity Shop
Dickens begins serialization of The Old Curiosity Shop -- pitting the virtuous Nell against the evil Quilp -- in his new weekly periodical, Master Humphrey's Clock.

1841:Barnaby Rudge
Barnaby Rudge is an historical story based on the Catholic Relief Act riots of 1780 in London. It begins serialization in Master Humphrey's Clock in February of 1841.

1842:American Notes
Dickens tours America for five months (including stops in Boston, Hartford, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Niagara Falls, and Albany) and writes this critical account of his journey, angering many Americans.

1843:Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit
An erratic mix of satire and comedy, Martin Chuzzlewit is an intricate tale of greed and power; it targets the hypocrisy of Americans and the greedy nature of some Englishmen. Chuzzlewit is serialized from January of 1843 to July of 1844.

A Christmas Carol
In order to fend off some financial difficulties, Dickens decides to write a Christmas story. A Christmas Carol, destined to become the classic story of the holiday, is published in December of 1843.

1845:Theatrical company debuts
Beginning in 1845 with Jonson's Every Man in His Humour, Dickens begins amateur theatricals, giving him an outlet for performance as well as production.

1846:Dombey and Son
A complex novel about a man who wishes for a son at the expense of his daughter, Dombey and Son begins serialization in October of 1846.

1847:Cheap Edition
The first collection of Dickens's works, the Cheap Edition, begins serial publication.

1849:David Copperfield
The most autobiographical of all of Dickens's novels, David Copperfield is peppered with some of his most enduring characters. It begins its serialization in May of 1849.

Guild of Literature and Art
Dickens and his friend Edward Bulwer-Lytton co-found the Guild of Literature and Art, an organization designed to aid worthy writers and artists.

1851:A Child's History of England, Vol. I
The narrative A Child's History of England begins serialization in Dickens's weekly periodical Household Words in January of 1851.

Christmas Books
Dickens publishes five Christmas stories he has written (1843-1848) in one Cheap Edition collection: A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man

1852:Bleak House
Bleak House, a novel of intrigue and legal frustration, begins its serialization.

1853:First public reading
In December, Dickens gives his first public reading (of A Christmas Carol).

1854:Hard Times
A short and controversial novel, Hard Times is a fable indicting industrialism; it is serialized in Household Words in 1854.

1857:Little Dorrit
A dark novel about the effects of debt and imprisonment, the somber Little Dorrit begins its serialization in December.

1858:Public readings
Dickens gives extensive public readings -- 88 readings in 44 different locations, starting in London and then throughout Britain.

1859:A Tale of Two Cities
London and Paris are the setting for Dickens's story of Sydney Carton and the French Revolution. The weekly serialization, in All the Year Round, begins in April.

1860:Great Expectations
Considered by many to be Dickens's greatest work, Great Expectations is a novel of crime and punishment, narrated in the first person by Philip Pirrip, or "Pip." It begins its weekly serial run in December.

1864:Our Mutual Friend
In his last completed novel, Dickens interweaves elements of murder mystery, class struggle, envy and corruption. The story is serialized between May of 1864 and November of 1865.

1866:Reading tour of England and Scotland
An exhausted Dickens completes an arduous reading tour of England and Scotland during the spring.

1868:Reading tour of America
Although sick and weary, Dickens makes a successful reading tour of America, largely motivated by the monetary rewards of such a trip.

Sikes and Nancy
In England, Dickens performs the emotional performance piece Sikes and Nancy for the first time. His flair for the theatrical makes for a riveting presentation, but one that takes an emotional and physical toll.

1870:Dickens is received by Queen Victoria
In March, Dickens is received by Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace in a private interview.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Dickens writes six parts of a projected 12 of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, leaving the mystery unsolved forever.

1872: Forster's The Life of Charles Dickens
John Forster begins work on a Dickens biography immediately after his friend's death, utilizing old letters and memorabilia gathered over the years.

World Events

1801:Thomas Jefferson inaugurated
Jefferson, the first Republican president of the U.S., takes the reins of government from John Adams and the Federalists.

1803:Louisiana Purchase
The purchase of the vast territory -- 827,000 square miles from Napoleon for $15 million -- doubles the size of the United States.

1804:Lewis and Clark Expedition
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark lead an exploration of the American West (1804-1806), from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean.

1809:James Madison inaugurated
Madison, Jefferson's secretary of state, becomes president of the United States.

1812:Napoleon's Russian campaign fails
Undersupplied and ill prepared, Napoleon's invasion of Russia with 600,000 troops ends in a disastrous retreat and contributes to the demise of the French empire.

1812:War of 1812
The United States, frustrated by British harassment and interference in shipping, declares war on Great Britain. The war ends with the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

1814:Congress of Vienna opens
A year-long meeting convenes to determine the future of Europe.

1817:James Monroe inaugurated
Monroe, in a sweeping victory for the Republicans, takes office and continues Madison's domestic programs.

1818:49th parallel decided
The Convention of 1818 fixed the border between the United States and Canada along the 49th parallel.

1819:The future Queen Victoria born
The only child of Edward, Duke of Kent, Victoria is born at Kensington Palace, London, on May 24.

1821:Napoleon dies
In exile, on the barren British island of St. Helena, Napoleon dies in May.

1823:Monroe Doctrine
James Monroe establishes United States. foreign policy which opposes any extension of European control or influence in the Western Hemisphere.

1825:John Quincy Adams becomes President
In the election of 1824, Andrew Jackson had won a plurality of the electoral vote, but John Quincy Adams was chosen the winner by the House of Representatives.

Beethoven's 9th
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) writes his Ninth Symphony.

1826:Duke of Wellington becomes Prime Minister
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, resists pressure for constitutional reform as Prime Minister of Britain (after defeating Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815).

1829:Andrew Jackson inaugurated
After a vigorous campaign, Andrew Jackson, a Democrat, becomes the seventh president.

1830:William IV begins his reign
William IV (1765-1837) becomes King of Great Britain and Ireland.

Revolution in Paris
Louis Philippe (1773-1850) becomes King of France, the "Citizen King."

1831:Cholera pandemic
A cholera pandemic spreads from India to Russia, into Central Europe, reaching Great Britain by 1832.

London Bridge opened
Designed by John Rennie Sr. and built by his son John Rennie Jr., London Bridge crosses the Thames River with a center span of 150 feet.

1833:Slavery is abolished in the British Empire

1834:Spanish Inquisition suppressed
The Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834), a political and religious reign of terror, is finally quelled.

Poor Law Amendment Act
In Britain, the Poor Law Amendment Act led to an immediate fiscal savings because conditions for the poor were made intentionally harsher than before.

1837:Victoria becomes Queen of Great Britain
Following the death of William IV, Victoria ascends to the throne at the age of 19.

Martin Van Buren inaugurated Martin Van Buren becomes the eight president of the United States.

1840:Queen Victoria marries
In 1839 Victoria proposes to her cousin, Prince Albert of Sax-Coburg-Gothe; they marry on February 10, 1840.

William Henry Harrison inaugurated; he dies one month after becoming the ninth U.S. president. John Tyler becomes president after Harrison's death.

Sir Robert Peel
Sir Robert Peel, a Tory, becomes Prime Minister of Britain.

Treaty of Nanking
The Treaty of Nanking ends the Opium War between Britain and China; Britain controls Hong Kong.

1844:Samuel F. B. Morse
Morse perfects and demonstrates his electric telegraph for the first time.

1845:James K. Polk inaugurated
Democrat Polk becomes the 10th president of the United States.

1847:British Factory Act
British Factory Act restricts working day to 10 hours for women and children.

1848:U.S, Women's Rights convention
Organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the convention meets in Seneca Falls, New York, and issues the "Declaration of Sentiments."

Communist Manifesto
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels publish the "Manifesto of the Communist Party."

Gold Rush
Gold is discovered in California, sparking the arrival of a flood of emigrants.

1852:Emperor Napoleon III
Despite an oath to the Republic, Napoleon III (1808-1873) proclaims himself emperor and the reign of the Second Empire begins.

1853:Franklin Pierce inaugurated
Pierce becomes the 14th President of United States.

1853:Crimean War
The Crimean War (1853-1856) is fought between the allied forces of Great Britain, France, the Ottoman Empire and Sardinia, and the Russians.

1856:The Victoria Cross
Queen Victoria institutes the Victoria Cross for gallantry during the Crimean War.

1857:James Buchanan inaugurated
Buchanan, a moderate Democrat, becomes the 15th president of the United States

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, opens
The Victoria and Albert Museum is founded to support and encourage excellence in art and design.

England and India
England proclaims peace and colonial rule in India.

1859:Origin of the Species
British naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) publishes On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, explaining his theory of evolutionary selection.

Big Ben erected
London's tower clock, housed in the Houses of Parliament, is erected.

1860:Abraham Lincoln inaugurated
Lincoln is elected 16th President of United States, provoking southern secession from the Union.

1861:Outbreak of U.S. Civil War
Fort Sumter (in South Carolina) falls to the Confederate Army in April.

Emancipation of Russian serfs
In the wake of the Crimean War, Alexander II, Emperor of Russia, institutes the abolition of serfdom.

1862:Bismarck becomes Prussian Prime Minister
As Prime Minister, Otto von Bismarck devotes himself to the effort of uniting Germany under Prussian leadership.

1863:Emancipation Proclamation
Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, pledging the Union to the abolition of slavery.

1864:Abraham Lincoln reelected
Abraham Lincoln is re-elected, defeating Democrat General George B. McClellan

Sand Creek Massacre
A regiment of Colorado Volunteers, led by John M. Chivington, murder between 200 and 400 Cheyenne Indians, most of whom are women and children.

Louis Pasteur, the father of modern medicine, invents pasteurization, a process by which heat is used to destroy harmful microbes in perishable food products.

Confederate States of America formally surrender at Appomattox, Virginia; U.S. Civil War ends.

Abraham Lincoln assassinated
Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater in Washington in April.

Lord John Russell
Lord John Russell (1792-1878), a Whig, becomes Prime Minister of Britain.

1866:"Black Friday"
Plummeting gold prices in the United States precipitate a securities market panic on the London Stock Exchange.

1868:Andrew Johnson impeached
The House of Representatives votes to impeach President Andrew Johnson, but Congress falls one vote short of the majority needed.

1869:Suez Canal opens
The Suez Canal opens, enhancing Great Britain's power by facilitating travel between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

1870:Franco-Prussian War
German states under the leadership of Prussia defeat France by 1871.

John D. Rockefeller founds Standard Oil
By 1898, the Standard Oil Company will refine 84% of all oil refined in the United States.

Brooklyn Bridge opens
A brilliant feat of 19th-century engineering, the Brooklyn Bridge links Brooklyn and Manhattan over the East River.

1873:Andrew Carnegie
Despite a nationwide economic depression, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) and partner Henry Clay Frick take control of the U.S. steel industry.

1874:Disraeli becomes Prime Minister
The 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), a British statesman and author becomes Prime Minister.

Winston Churchill born
Winston Churchill, son of Lord Randolph Churchill and Jennie Jerome, was born in Blenheim Palace, Woodstock on November 30, 1874.

1875:Public Health Act passed in Britain

1876:Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.

1877:Empress of India
After the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the government of India was transferred from the East India Company to the Crown; in 1877 Victoria became Empress of India under the Royal Titles Act passed by Disraeli's government.

Rutherford B. Hayes inaugurated
Rutherford B. Hayes becomes 19th president of United States. He promises to withdraw Union troops from the South to end a dispute over his election.

1881:James A. Garfield inaugurated
James A. Garfield, who will die from an assassin's bullet only six months after taking office, is inaugurated as the 20th president of the United States.

1882:Triple Alliance
The Triple Alliance was formed when the secret Dual Alliance of Germany and Austria-Hungary (1879) was joined by Italy in 1882. Serbia also joined in 1882, and Romania in 1883.

Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture
Known for his colorful and romantic music, Russian Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) composes the 1812 Overture for the consecration of the Cathedral of the Redeemer, built to commemorate the events of that year.

Electrification of New York
To attract investors, Thomas A. Edison builds a power plant that lights 85 buildings in New York City.

Essays + Interviews | Who's Who | Oliver's London | A Dickens Timeline
Teacher's Guide | Novel to Film | A Victorian Twister | The Forum
Links and Bibliography

Home | About The Series | The American Collection | The Archive
Schedule & Season | Feature Library | eNewsletter | Book Club
Learning Resources | Forum | Search | Shop | Feedback

WGBH Logo PBS logo


Masterpiece is sponsored by: