Charles Dickens was born on February 7th in 1812 and died in 1870. Here’s a list of facts, events and dates in the life of Charles Dickens.  The timeline also includes information about the era in which he lived.

Charles Dickens Timeline

Last Updated on June 21, 2020

Charles Dickens Timeline

Here’s a list of facts, events and dates in the life of Charles Dickens.  The Charles Dickens timeline also includes information about the era in which he lived.


The War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain begins in June of 1812.

John Dickens

John Dickens, the father of Charles Dickens

Charles John Huffman Dickens is born on February 7, 1812 to John and Elizabeth Dickens.
Charles Dickens Birthday


The War of 1812 ends in February of 1815. Also, The Corn Laws (trade restrictions on imported food and grain) were introduced in Great Britain.


Dickens at work in a shoe-blacking factory

Illustration by Fred Bernard of young Charles Dickens at work in a shoe-blacking factory. (from the 1892 edition of Forster’s Life of Dickens)

1824 was the darkest year in Dickens’s life.  His father, John Dickens was  arrested for debt and sent to the Marshalsea prison. The family needed money and sent Charles  to work in Warren’s Blacking Factory.


In May of 1827 Charles Dickens takes a position as the clerk of an attorney.


The Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened on September 15, 1830. It was the first railway to rely on locomotives driven by steam power, with no horse-drawn traffic.

Maria Beadnell

Dickens meets Maria Beadnell, his first love interest.


The British Factory Act of 1833 made it illegal to employ children less than 9 years old in factories.  It limited child workers aged 9 to 13 to a maximum of 9 hours work a day.

The relationship with Maria Beadnell ends.   A Dinner at Poplar Walk is published.


The British Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 stated that the able-bodied cannot receive assistance unless they enter a workhouse.

Catherine Dickens

Catherine (Hogarth) Dickens

Dickens begins using the pseudonym “Boz“.

He meets his future wife, Catherine Hogarth.


Dickens becomes engaged to Catherine.


The Pickwick Papers

The Pickwick Papers

The first chapters of The Pickwick Papers are published.

In April of 1836 Dickens marries Catherine Hogarth.


June 20, 1837 marks the beginning of the Victorian era.  It is on that date that Queen Victoria ascended the throne after the death of her uncle, William IV.
Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria in 1882

Oliver Twist

The first of his 10 children, Charles Culliford Boz Dickens, is born.

Mary Hogarth, Catherine’s sister, dies.

The publication of Oliver Twist begins.


Nicholas Nickleby

Dickens and Hablot Browne travel to Yorkshire to see boarding schools. This is research for Nicholas Nickleby.

Dickens’s  daughter, Mary, is born.

Publication of Nicholas Nickleby begins.


The world’s first commercial electric telegraph line comes into operation alongside the Great Western Railway line from London Paddington station to West Drayton.

His daughter, Kate, is born on October 29, 1839.


Queen Victoria marries Prince Albert of of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha on February 10, 1840.

The Old Curiosity Shop

Publication of The Old Curiosity Shop begins.


Frederick de Moleyns of England is granted the first patent for an incandescent lamp. The design uses platinum wires contained within a vacuum bulb.

Barnaby Rudge

Barnaby Rudge

Barnaby Rudge is published.  Charles and Catherine tour Scotland.  Their son, Walter, is born.


Sketch of Charles Dickens in 1842

Sketch of Charles Dickens in 1842 (Small image on the bottom left is his sister, Fanny)

Charles and Catherine travel to America.  Late in 1842 or early in the next year Dickens begins work on Martin Chuzzlewit.


a christmas carol

In September of 1843 Dickens and Clarkson Stanfield visit the Field Lane Ragged School.

A Christmas Carol is published on December 19, 1843.


Francis Jeffrey Dickens as a child

Francis Jeffrey Dickens

His son Francis Jeffrey (Frank) is born on January 15, 1844.

Dickens and family travel to Italy.  Dickens treats Madame de la Rue with mesmerism.


Another son, Alfred, is born.


The Corn Laws are repealed.

Dombey and Son

Dickens and his family travel to Switzerland.  Publication of Dombey and Son begins.


Sydney Smith Haldimand Dickens

Sydney Smith Haldimand Dickens

His son, Sydney, is born.


Fanny Dickens

Fanny Dickens around 1842

Dickens’s sister, Fanny, dies.  The Haunted Man, his last Christmas book is published.


David Copperfield

His son, Henry Fielding Dickens, is born.  The publication of David Copperfield begins.


His daughter, Dora Annie Dickens, is born.


Catherine Dickens suffers a nervous collapse.  John Dickens, the father of Charles Dickens, dies.  Dora Dickens dies when she is only eight months old.  What Shall we have for Dinner?, a cookbook by Catherine Dickens is published.


Bleak House

The publication of Bleak House begins. His son, Edward or “Plorn”, is born.


Dickens gives his first public reading of one of his works.


Hard Times as serialized in Household Words

Hard Times as serialized in Household Words

Hard Times is published.


Little Dorrit

Dickens has a disappointing reunion with Maria Winter (Maria Beadnell).  Publication of Little Dorrit begins.


Gad's Hill Place

Gad’s Hill Place

Dickens works with Wilkie Collins on The Frozen Deep. Dickens purchases Gad’s Hill Place.


Ellen Ternan

Hans Christian Anderson is entertained at Gad’s Hill Place. Dickens meets Ellen Ternan.


Dickens separates from Catherine, his wife.


A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities is published.


Title page of first edition of Great Expectations

Title page of first edition of Great Expectations

Publication of Great Expectations begins in All the Year Round.  His daughter, Katie, marries.  Ten days later his brother, Alfred, dies. Dickens burns his personal papers.


The American civil war begins. Also,Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, dies.


Elizabeth Dickens

Elizabeth Dickens, the mother of Charles Dickens

Dickens’ mother, Elizabeth, dies. Dickens begins work on Our Mutual Friend.


Our Mutual Friend

His son, Walter, dies in India.  The first installment of Our Mutual Friend is printed.


The American civil war ends.

Staplehurst Railway Accident

The Staplehurst railway accident as depicted in the Illustrated London News

On June 9, 1865 Dickens is involved in the Staplehurst railway accident.  Ellen Ternan and her mother were also on the train with him that day.


Charles Dickens giving a public reading

“Charles Dickens as he appears when reading.” Illustration in Harper’s Weekly, December 1867.

Dickens tours America for the second time.


He gives his first Murder of Nancy reading.


The mystery of edwin drood

Dickens is ordered by doctors to discontinue readings. Dickens begins writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood.


Dickens gives his final public reading.  Publication of  The Mystery of Edwin Drood begins.  Charles Dickens dies at Gad’s Hill Place on June 9, 1870.