Charles Dickens (1812-1870) Timeline

7 Feb 1812

Birth of Charles Dickens

1817

Charles Dickens enjoys a happy childhood in Chatham, England.

1822

Charles Dickens living and working in London

1824

The father of Charles Dickens is sent to prison for debt and Charles is withdrawn from school to work in a factory. This experience will inform many of his writings about the plight of the working class. Images of prison and of a lost, oppressed, or bewil

1832

Drawn to the theater, a young Charles Dickens nearly becomes a professional actor. Later in life, he will satisfy his passion for performing with hundreds of animated public readings of his own books.

1833

Charles Dickens begins to contribute stories and essays to magazines and newspapers.

1834

Charles Dickens is working as a journalist for the Liberal Benthamite Morning Chronicle, an experience that greatly affects his political outlook.

1836

Charles Dickens writes two plays and a pamphlet arguing that the poor should be allowed to enjoy the Sabbath.

1836

The Pickwick Papers

1836

Dickens resigns from newspaper job to edit Bentley's Miscellany

Apr 1836

Dickens marries Catherine, the eldest daughter of a respected Scottish journalist George Hogarth.

1837

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

1838

Charles Dickens publishes Nicholas Nickleby in 20 serial installments.

1840

Charles Dickens publishes The Old Curiosity Shop in short weekly installments.

1841

Charles Dickens vacations in America; is received as celebrity

1841

Charles Dickens publishes Barnaby Rudge in short weekly installments.

1842

American Notes published by Charles Dickens.

1843

While working on Martin Chuzzlewit, Charles Dickens writes A Christmas Carol on the side in just a few weeks. It is published the same year and becomes one of his most popular and beloved works.

1843

Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens

1844

Charles Dickens travels in Italy.

1844

In the New Spirit of the Age, R.H. Horne describes Charles Dickens as "in private, very much what might be expected from his works.... His conversation is genial.... [He] has singular personal activity, and is fond of games of practical skill. He is als

1846

Charles Dickens is traveling in Switzerland and France.

1846

Charles Dickens writes Dombey and Son.

1846

Charles Dickens publishes Dombey and Son in serialized form.

1849

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

1852

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

1854

Hard Times by Charles Dickens

1855

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

1856

Charles Dickens is increasingly unhappy in general and in his marriage. He writes to his friend Forster: "I find the skeleton in my domestic closet is becoming a pretty big one."

Aug 1857

Charles Dickens performs in the play The Frozen Deep with Ellen "Nelly" Ternan, with whom he begins a relationship that will continue until his death.

Apr 1858

Charles Dickens begins performing paid readings of his works, especially A Christmas Carol. An enthusiastic and skilled performer, he will give some 470 such readings over the next decade.

May 1858

Charles and Catherine Dickens separate, creating a scandal that Dickens does not handle tactfully. This results in the loss of some friends, but his public popularity is mostly unaffected.

1859

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

1860

Charles Dickens moves out of London to a house in Gad's Hill, near his childhood home in Chatham, Kent.

1860

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

1864

Charles Dickens publishes Our Mutual Friend.

1867

Charles Dickens brings reading tour to America

Apr 1869

His health in decline since his strenuous American reading tour, Charles Dickens collapses. He is forced to cancel his planned farewell reading tour, but still performs some readings in London.

9 Jun 1870

Death of Charles Dickens in Kent, England

10 Jun 1870

An obituary of Charles Dickens in The Times describes him as "an able and strong-minded man, who would have succeeded in almost any profession to which he devoted himself."