Charles Dickens timeline: The best of times, the worst of times

Rupert Godsal paints the major events in the life and times of Charles Dickens, who died 150 years ago on 9 June, 1870.

1812

Born in Portsmouth on February 7

1824

The young Charles has to leave school because his father (as was Mr Micawber) is imprisoned in Marshalsea for debt; works in a blacking factory for three years

1827

Starts job as clerk to an attorney

1830

Falls in love with Maria Beadnell, but her parents disapprove

1832

Misses an important audition at Covent Garden due to a cold

1833

Starts as journalist at The Mirror of Parliament and The True Sun; becomes Parliamentary journalist for the Morning Chronicle; publishes sketches under pseudonym ‘Boz’

1836

Marries Catherine Hogarth, whose father is his sketch editor; publishes the first chapters of The Pickwick Papers

1837

Charles, the first of 10 children, is born; family moves to 48, Doughty Street, Bloomsbury; starts publishing Oliver Twist

The 1948 film version of Oliver Twist, directed by David Lean, with John Howard Davies as Oliver Twist.

1838

Visits schools in Yorkshire as research for Nicholas Nickleby

1840

Starts publishing The Old Curiosity Shop

1841

Barnaby Rudge is published

1842

Travels to America; starts Martin Chuzzlewit

1843

A Christmas Carol is published

1846

Starts Dombey and Son

1847

Founds a home for fallen women

1849

Starts David Copperfield

1851

Daughter Dora dies at eight months

1852

Starts Bleak House

1854

Hard Times is serialised in Household Words

1855

Starts Little Dorrit

1856

Works with Wilkie Collins on a play, The Frozen Deep; buys Gad’s Hill Place in Kent, a property he had admired as a child

1857

Falls in love with 18-year-old actress Ellen Ternan, who is in The Frozen Deep cast

1858

Estranged from Catherine

1859

Publishes A Tale of Two Cities

1860

Mysteriously burns 20 years’ worth of papers in a bonfire at Gad’s Hill Place; starts Great Expectations

1863

Starts Our Mutual Friend

1864

Son Walter dies in India

1865

Travels back from Paris by rail, but the train derails at Staplehurst, Kent, on June 9. Tends the wounded and dying

1867

Second reading tour of America; dines with the likes of Emerson and Longfellow

1869

After a series of collapses, is ordered by doctor to stop his reading tour; starts writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood (but never finishes)

1870

Resumes reading tour, but dies aged 58 on June 9 from a stroke and is buried in Westminster Abbey