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Biography of Charles Dickens

Photo of Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was a Victorian novelist famous for his vivid characterisations.

When and Where was Charles Dickens Born?

7th February 1812, Mile End Terrace, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England.

Family Background:

Charles Dicken’s father John Dickens was a Pay Clerk in the Royal Navy who married Elizabeth Barrow in 1809 at St. Mary-le-Strand, London.

Education:

William Giles’s School. Wellington House Academy, London.

Timeline of Charles Dickens:

1812: The family moves in June to 16 Hawk Street, Portsmouth.

1813: The family moves in December to 39 Wish Street, Southsea.

1814: Dickens’s brother Alfred is born and dies in September.

1815: The family moves to London as John Dickens is posted back by Navy. Live at Norfolk Street, St. Pancras.

1816: His sister Letitia is born.

1817: John Dickens is posted first to Sheerness then Chatham Dockyard in Kent. The family moves to 2 Ordnance Terrace, Chatham.

1819: His sister Harriet is born.

1820: His brother Frederick is born.

1821: The family moves to St. Mary’s Place. Dickens begins school. He writes a tragedy “Misnar, the Sultan of India”.

1822: John Dickens is recalled to London. The family settles at 16 Bayham Street, Camden Town.

1823: The family moves to 4 Gower Street North. Mrs. Dickens attempts to start a school without success.

1824: Dickens is sent to work at Warren’s Blacking Factory. His father is arrested for debt and sent to Marshalsea Prison where he is joined by wife and younger children. Dickens lodges with family friends. On his father’s release the family moves to 29 Johnson Street, Somers Town.

1825: His father retires from the Navy and Dickens is sent to school.

1827: The family is evicted for non-payment of rates. Dickens goes to work at Ellis and Blackmore’s Solicitors then Charles Molloy’s Solicitors. Birth of his brother Augustus.

1828: His father works as a reporter for the “Daily Herald” newspaper.

1829: The family moves to 12 Norfolk Street, Fitzroy Square. Dickens works as a freelance reporter at Doctor’s Commons.

1830: He is admitted as a reader at the British Museum.

Photograph of the British Museum
The British Museum, London

1831: Dickens begins work as a reporter for “The Mirror of Parliament” edited by his uncle, J.M. Barrow.

1832: He becomes a reporter at the “True Sun” newspaper. Illness prevents him attending auditions at Covent Garden.

1834: He becomes a reporter on the “Morning Chronicle” and meets Catherine Hogarth. He takes rooms at 13 Furnival’s Inn, Holborn.

1835: Dickens gets engaged to Catherine Hogarth.

1836: He marries Catherine Hogarth at St. Lukes Church, Chelsea on 2nd April.

1837: The birth of first child Charles, on 6th January. The new family moves to 48 Doughty Street. He visits France and Belgium.

Dickens House London
Dicken’s former house in Doughty Street, London, now a museum. 
Here he wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1838: His second child Mary is born.

1839: Dickens resigns the editorship of “Bentley’s Miscellany”. His third child Kate is born. They move to 1 Devonshire Place, Regent’s Park.

1841: His fourth child Walter is born. Dickens declines an invitation to be Liberal Parliamentary Candidate for Reading. He is granted the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh on 29th June.

1842: He visits America with Catherine and then Cornwall later in the year.

1844: His fifth child Francis is born. Dickens breaks with his previous publishers Chapman and Hall and moves to Bradbury and Evans. He lives in Genoa, Italy.

1845: He visits Rome with Catherine. His sixth child Alfred is born.

1846: He becomes Editor of the “Daily News” and resides in Lausanne, Switzerland and then Paris.

1847: Dickens returns to London. Birth of his seventh child Sydney.

1848: Death of his sister Fanny.

1849: His eighth child Henry is born.

1850: His ninth child Dora is born. He founds the Guild of Literature and Art with Bulwer-Lytton to help writers and artists who have fallen on hard times.

1851: Catherine is ill and is treated at Malvern, Worcestershire where Dickens visits her. Death of Father and baby Dora. The family moves to Tavistock House.

1852: His tenth child Edward is born.

1853: He holidays in Boulogne then Visits Switzerland with Wilkie Collins.

1855: Dickens joins the Administrative Reform Society. The family moves to Paris from October.

1856: He returns to England to live at Gad’s Hill Place in Kent.

1857: Hans Christian Andersen visits Dickens at Gad’s Hill. Dickens holidays in the Lake District with Wilkie Collins.

1858: He separates from his wife and embarks on a provincial reading tour.

1860: Katey Dickens marries Charles Collins.

1863: He gives charity readings at the British Embassy in Paris. Death of Walter Dickens in India.

1865: On 9th June he is involved in a serious railway accident at Staplehurst, Kent with Ellen Ternan.

1867: Dickens begins a reading tour of the U.S.A.

1868: He leaves New York for England.

1869: The reading tour is broken off because of DIcken’s illness.

1870: In January he gives twelve farewell readings in London. Dickens is received by Queen Victoria on the 9th March and dies in June.

When and where did he die?

9th June 1870, of cerebral haemorrhage, at Gad’s Hill, Near Chatham, Kent, England.

Age at Death:

56.

Written Works:

1835: “Sketches by Boz”.
1837: “Pickwick Papers”.
1838: “Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi”. “Oliver Twist.”. “Sketches of a Young Gentleman”.
1839: “Nicholas Nickleby”.
1840: “Sketches of Young Couples”.
1841: “Barnaby Rudge”. “The Old Curiosity Shop”.
1842: “American Notes for General Circulation”.
1843: “A Christmas Carol”.
1844: “The Chimes”. “A Goblin Story”. “Martin Chuzzlewit”.
1845: “The Cricket on the Hearth”.
1846: “Pictures from Italy”.
1848: “Dombey and Son”. “The Haunted Man”.
1850: “David Copperfield”.
1851: “A Child’s History of England”.
1853: “Bleak House”.
1854: “Hard Times”1857: “Little Dorrit”.
1859: “A Tale of Two Cities”.
1860: “The Uncommercial Traveller”.
1861: “Great Expectations”.
1865: “Our Mutual Friend”.
1870: “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”.

Marriage:

2nd April 1836 to Catherine Hogarth at St. Lukes Church, Chelsea.

Site of Grave:

Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey, London, England.

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey, London
(copyright Anthony Blagg)

Places of Interest:

AVON:

Stayed at No 35 St. Jame’s Square and the Saracen’s Head, Bath.
He gave readings in the Assembly Rooms, Bath.

HAMPSHIRE:

Birthplace Museum, 393 Old Commercial Road, Portsmouth, PO1 4OL.

KENT:

Gad’s Hill Place, Rochester, ME3 7PA. (home).
Charles Dickens Centre, Eastgate House, Rochester.
Chatham.
Pegwell Bay Hotel, Pegwell Bay. (mentioned in “Sketches by Boz”).
Bleak House Museum, 2 Victoria Parade, Broadstairs, CT10 1QS.

LONDON:

Dickens House Museum, 48 Doughty Street, Bloomsbury, WC1N 2LX.
George Inn, Southwark. (mentioned in “Little Dorrit”).

Further Information:

Dickens Fellowship, 48 Doughty Street, London, WC1N 2LF.

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