Dickens & Liverpool Timelines

Where it all started

When I began my dissertation I was (foolishly) confident that any connections between Liverpool and Charles Dickens would be relatively easy to find. After all, he is one of the most celebrated authors of all time, and Liverpool is one of the most formidable cities in Britain’s history. Right?

Wrong! Well, actually, the facts are right. However, the confidence in my ability to uncover a world of connections in an instant, well, that was a little optimistic.

Eventually, details started to emerge, and what once felt like a never ending cycle of dead ends, suddenly turned into a wealth of dates, visits, quotes, more dates, letters, newspapers, more dates, cancelled dates, re-arranged dates, and so on. With so many different sources, and many of them (very helpfully) stating a variety of different dates and locations for the author’s visits, it took me some time to filter through and find the correct details. When I did, it quickly became apparent that a timeline would be an incredibly helpful way to log the various dates and visits, and as I started, I realised that I could develop this further. By combining a timeline of the author’s published work and a timeline of his visits to Liverpool, I could create a superb resource (a super timeline if you will), that could highlight when the author was in the city, what he did while he was there, and more importantly, what text he was writing during his visit.

John Bull's 'Au Revoir!'
Created by the cartoonist J. Proctor in honour of Dickens’s trip to America in 1867, the illustration shows the author surrounded by his characters as they bid their creator farewell. Setting sail on the SS Cuba from Liverpool, Dickens returned to America after 25 years to embark on his reading tour.
The poster in the background of the illustration advertises the Black Ball Line, which offered passengers regular transport between Liverpool and New York.

Picture: (Dickens, Hawksley, Lucinda. Dickens’ Bicentenary 1812-2012. London: Andre Deutsch, 2011)

Below are the three timelines which I have (painstakingly) pieced together. As my research develops, I will continue to add to the timelines, which will eventually create a comprehensive account of the connections between Dickens, his work, and Liverpool. If all goes well, I may even unearth some interesting details about what the celebrated author got up to during his time in the city.

 

Charles Dickens: Publishing Timeline

1833-36 Sketches by Boz
1836 (Play) The Strange Gentleman
1836 (Play) The Village Coquettes
1837 The Pickwick Papers
1837 (Play) Is She His Wife? Or Something Singular?
1837-38 The Mudfog Papers
1837-39 The Adventures of Oliver Twist
1837-39 The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
1838 (Play) The Lamplighter
1841 (Feb-Nov) Barnaby Rudge
1840-41 (April-Dec) Master Humphrey’s Clock
1840-41 (April-Nov) The Old Curiosity Shop
1842-44 The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit
1842 American Notes
1843 A Christmas Carol and Other Stories
1844 The Chimes
1845 The Cricket on Hearth
1846 The Battle of Life
1846-48 Dombey and Son
1846 Pictures from Italy
1846-49 (published in 1934, 64 years after his death) The Life of Our Lord
1848 The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain
1849-50 David Copperfield
1850 A Preliminary Word
1850 A Child’s Dream of a Star
1851 What Christmas is as we Grow Older
1851 (Play) Mr Nightingale’s Diary
1851 The Metropolitan Protectives
1851 The Guild of Literature and Art
1851 On Duty With Inspector Field
1851 Whole Hogs
1851 Our School
1851 A Child’s History of England
1852-53 Bleak House
1852 A Curious Dance Around a Curious Tree
1852 To Be Read at Dusk
1853 Frauds on the Fairies
1853 The Long Voyage
1854 Our French Watering Place
1854 (April-Aug) Hard Times: For These Times
1855-57 Little Dorrit
1855-58 Boots at the Holly-tree Inn
1856 The Wreck of the Golden Mary
1856 (Play) A Frozen Deep (written by Dickens and Wilkie Collins)
1856 Proposals for a National Jest Book
1857 The Perils of Certain English Prisoners
1857 Curious Misprint in Edinburgh Rev
1857 The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices
1858 Personal
1859 Hunted Down
1859 The Haunted House
1859 (April 30) The Poor Man and His Beer
1859 (Dec 24) Leigh Hunt. A Remonstrance
1859 A Tale of Two Cities
1860 The Uncommercial Traveller
1860 A Message From the Sea
1860-61 Great Expectations
1861 (Sep 14) Four Stories
1861 Tom Tiddler’s Ground
1862 Somebody’s Luggage
1863 Mrs Lirriper’s Lodgings
1863 Mrs Lirriper’s Legacy
1864-65 Our Mutual Friend
1864 (Jan 30) Pincher Astray
1865 Doctor Marigold
1865 The Trial for Murder
1865 Dr Marigold’s Prescriptions
1866 Mugby Junction
1866 Three Ghost Stories
1867 (June 1) The Late Mr Stanfield
1867 No Thoroughfare
1868 George Silverman’s Explanation
1868 Holiday Romance
1868 (June 6) A Debt of Honour
1868 (Dec 5) Editorial Notice to the Public
1868 (Dec 19) A Small Star in the East
1869 (Jan 2) A Little Dinner in an Hour
1869 (Jan 16) Mr Barlow
1869 (Feb 27) On an Amateur Beat
1869 (May 22) A Fly-leaf in a Life
1869 (June 5) A Plea for Total Abstinence
1870 The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Charles Dickens: Visits to Liverpool Timeline

  • 1838 Dickens joins his friend Hablot K. Browne on a visit to North Wales, during which Browne paid a visit to his son Edgar Browne, who lived on Rodney Street. Mention of this made in a letter to John Forster (dated 3rd November 1938) (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).
  • 1842 (4th January) Dickens and his wife set sail from Liverpool in the Britannia for America. Once again, he stayed at the Adelphi Hotel. Mentioned in ‘American Notes’ (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).
  • 1843 (September) Dickens, accompanied by Forster and Maclise to see Macready off to America (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).
  • 1844 (26th February) First public appearance. Dickens appears at the Mechanics Institution in Liverpool to give a brief speech, where he ‘promises to make his children members’ of such an institution (The Fife Herald, Kinross, Strathearn and Clackmannan Advertiser (Cupar, Scotland), Thursday, March 07, 1844; pg. 2; Issue 1148. British Library Newspapers, Part V: 1746-1950).
  • 1847 (Wednesday 28th July) appeared in ‘Every Man in his Humor’ with his illustrious company of armature actors at the Theatre Royal for the benefit of the fund being raised for Leigh Hunt (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).
  • 1852 (February 13th/14th) Appeared again as an actor at the Philharmonic Hall. This time in aid of the funds of the Guild of Literature and Art (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).
  • 1852 (September 3rd) A further performance in the Philharmonic Hall for the Guild of Literature and Art (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).
  • 1858 (Wednesday 18th August) Dickens visited Liverpool for a series of readings at the Philharmonic Hall, where on Wednesday evening over 1200 persons were present (The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent. Supplement. (Sheffield, England), Saturday, August 21, 1858; pg. 6; Issue 2027. British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900).
  • 1858 (Friday 20th) Dickens continued readings at the Philharmonic Hall for around 2300 people (Reading Mercury, Oxford Gazette, Newbury Herald and Berks County Paper, etc (Reading, England), Saturday, August 28, 1858; pg. 2. British Library Newspapers, Part III: 1741-1950).
  • 1858 (Saturday 21st August) Dickens visited the children’s hospital during his trip, which ‘he expressed himself much pleased.’ Dickens left Liverpool later that night for Ireland (Berkshire Chronicle (Reading, England), Saturday, August 28, 1858; pg. 7; Issue 1654. British Library Newspapers, Part IV: 1732-1950).
  • 1858 (15th, 19th, 20th, 21st October) Dickens due to return to the Philharmonic Hall for further readings (Daily News (London, England), Wednesday, September 22, 1858; Issue 3855. British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900).
  • 1860 (21st April) The Uncommercial Traveller publishes an account of a trip around a Liverpool infirmary, situated in the workhouse on Brownlow Hill. During his visit, Dickens observed, and met with, the soldiers who had returned from the Indian campaign of 1857. Having spent some time at the infirmary, Dickens went on to write the short story The Great Tasmania’s Cargo, which featured in All The Year Round in 1860 (The Western Daily Press (Yeovil, England), Saturday, April 21, 1860; pg. 3; Issue 591. British Library Newspapers, Part V: 1746-1950).
  • 1860 Dickens visits the Campbell Street Bridewell and is given the honorary title of a special constable for one night. During which, he visited the dockland areas of Liverpool (The Salthouse, The Albert Dock, Liver Street, Canning Place and Wapping), and went on to write a short story called Poor Mercantile Jack, which featured in All The Year Round in 1860 (Dickens, Charles. The Uncommercial Traveller. Chapman and Hall: London, 1860).
  • 1862 (January, 27th, 28th, 29th) performed readings at St George’s Hall.
  • 1866 (11th, 13th and 14th April) Charles Dickens due to perform readings in St George’s Hall (Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Friday, March 30, 1866; Issue 5668. British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900).
  • 1867 (18th and 19th January) Dickens participates in more public readings (location unknown for now) (Daily Post (Liverpool, England), Saturday, January 19, 1867; pg. 6; Issue 3597. British Library Newspapers, Part IV: 1732-1950).
  • 1867 (February) further readings in St George’s Hall (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).
  • 1867 (August) Dickens says farewell to his manager Dolby, who leaves Liverpool to head for America, to report upon the prospects of an American reading tour (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).
  • 1867 (2nd November) Dickens leaves Liverpool for New York, on board the S.S Cuba (The Royal Cornwall Gazette, Falmouth Packet, and General Advertiser (Truro, England), Thursday, October 10, 1867; pg. 3; Issue 3352. British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900).
  • 1868 (October 12th, 13th, 14th, 26th, 27th, 28th) After his return to England, Dickens performed readings at St George’s Hall (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).
  • 1869 (5th, 6th, 8th, 9th April) Farewell readings and final appearances at Liverpool in the Theatre Royal (Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Monday, March 22, 1869; Issue 6600. British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900).
  • 1869 (10TH April) A banquet is held as a farewell to Dickens from the city of Liverpool (The Western Daily Press (Yeovil, England), Thursday, March 04, 1869; pg. 3; Issue 3414. British Library Newspapers, Part V: 1746-1950).
  • 1869 (14th April) The Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Society present Dickens with a congratulatory address at the Adelphi Hotel (Cambridge Independent Press (Cambridge, England), Saturday, April 17, 1869; pg. 7; Issue 2787. British Library Newspapers, Part IV: 1732-1950).

 

Charles Dickens: Combined Timelines (AKA: The Super Timeline)

  • 1838 Dickens joins his friend Hablot K. Browne on a visit to North Wales, during which Browne paid a visit to his son Edgar Browne, who lived on Rodney Street. This is mentioned in a letter to John Forster (dated 3rd November 1938). (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).

 

  • The Mudfog Papers (1837/38)
  • The Adventures of Oliver Twist (1837/38)
  • The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1837/39)

 

  • 1842 (4th January) Dickens and his wife set sail from Liverpool in the Britannia for America. Once again, he stayed at the Adelphi Hotel. Mentioned in ‘American Notes’ (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).

 

  • The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit (1842/44)
  • American Notes (1842)

 

  • 1843 (September) Dickens, accompanied by Forster and Maclise to see Macready off to America (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).

 

  • A Christmas Carol and Other Stories (1843)

 

  • 1844 (Monday 4th March/26th February) First public appearance. Dickens appears at the Mechanics Institution in Liverpool to give a brief speech, where he ‘promises to make his children members’ of such an institution. (The Fife Herald, Kinross, Strathearn and Clackmannan Advertiser (Cupar, Scotland), Thursday, March 07, 1844; pg. 2; Issue 1148. British Library Newspapers, Part V: 1746-1950).

 

  • The Chimes (1844)

 

  • 1847 (Wednesday 28th July) appeared in ‘Every Man in his Humor’ with his illustrious company of armature actors at the Theatre Royal for the benefit of the fund being raised for Leigh Hunt (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).

 

  • The Life of Our Lord (1846/49) Published 64 years after his death (1934)

 

  • 1852 (February 13th/14th) Appeared again as an actor at the Philharmonic Hall. This time in aid of the funds of the Guild of Literature and Art (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).

 

  • 1852 (September 3rd) A further performance in the Philharmonic Hall for the Guild of Literature and Art (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).

 

  • Bleak House (1852/53)

 

  • 1858 (Wednesday 18th August) Dickens visited Liverpool for a series of readings at the Philharmonic Hall, where on Wednesday evening over 1200 persons were present (The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent. Supplement. (Sheffield, England), Saturday, August 21, 1858; pg. 6; Issue 2027. British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900).

 

  • 1858 (Friday 20th) Dickens continued readings at the Philharmonic Hall for around 2300 people (Reading Mercury, Oxford Gazette, Newbury Herald and Berks County Paper, etc (Reading, England), Saturday, August 28, 1858; pg. 2. British Library Newspapers, Part III: 1741-1950).

 

  • 1858 (Saturday 21st August) Dickens visited the children’s hospital during his trip, which ‘he expressed himself much pleased.’ Dickens left Liverpool later that night for Ireland (Berkshire Chronicle (Reading, England), Saturday, August 28, 1858; pg. 7; Issue 1654. British Library Newspapers, Part IV: 1732-1950).

 

  • 1858 (15th, 19th, 20th, 21st October) Dickens due to return to the Philharmonic Hall for further readings (Daily News (London, England), Wednesday, September 22, 1858; Issue 3855. British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900).

 

  • 1860 (21st April) The Uncommercial Traveller publishes an account of a trip around a Liverpool infirmary, situated in the workhouse on Brownlow Hill. During his visit, Dickens observed, and met with, the soldiers who had returned from the Indian campaign of 1857. Having spent some time at the infirmary, Dickens went on to write the short story The Great Tasmania’s Cargo, which featured in All The Year Round in 1860 (The Western Daily Press (Yeovil, England), Saturday, April 21, 1860; pg. 3; Issue 591. British Library Newspapers, Part V: 1746-1950).

 

  • 1860 Dickens visits the Campbell Street Bridewell and is given the honorary title of a special constable for one night. During which, he visited the dockland areas of Liverpool (The Salthouse, The Albert Dock, Liver Street, Canning Place and Wapping), and went on to write a short story called Poor Mercantile Jack, which featured in All The Year Round in 1860 (Dickens, Charles. The Uncommercial Traveller. Chapman and Hall: London, 1860).

 

  • The Uncommercial Traveller (1860)
  • Great Expectations (1860/61)

 

  • 1862 (January, 27th, 28th, 29th) performed readings at St George’s Hall.

 

  • 1866 (11th, 13th and 14th April) Charles Dickens due to perform readings in St George’s Hall (Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Friday, March 30, 1866; Issue 5668. British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900).

 

  • Mugby Junction (1866)
  • Three Ghost Stories (1866)

 

  • 1867 (18th and 19th January) Dickens participates in more public readings (location unknown for now) (Daily Post (Liverpool, England), Saturday, January 19, 1867; pg. 6; Issue 3597. British Library Newspapers, Part IV: 1732-1950).

 

  • 1867 (February) further readings in St George’s Hall (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).

 

  • 1867 (August) Dickens says farewell to his manager Dolby, who leaves Liverpool to head for America, to report upon the prospects of an American reading tour (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).

 

  • 1867 (2nd November) Dickens leaves Liverpool for New York, on board the S.S Cuba (The Royal Cornwall Gazette, Falmouth Packet, and General Advertiser (Truro, England), Thursday, October 10, 1867; pg. 3; Issue 3352. British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900).

 

  • 1868 (October 12th, 13th, 14th, 26th, 27th, 28th) After his return to England, Dickens performed readings at St George’s Hall (Dexter, Walter. The England of Dickens. Cecil Palmer: London, 1925).

 

  • George Silverman’s Explanation (1868)

 

  • 1869 (5th, 6th, 8th, 9th April) Farewell readings and final appearances at Liverpool in the Theatre Royal (Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Monday, March 22, 1869; Issue 6600. British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900).

 

  • 1869 (10TH April) A banquet is held as a farewell to Dickens from the city of Liverpool. (The Western Daily Press (Yeovil, England), Thursday, March 04, 1869; pg. 3; Issue 3414. British Library Newspapers, Part V: 1746-1950)

 

  • 1869 (14th April) The Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Society present Dickens with a congratulatory address at the Adelphi Hotel (Cambridge Independent Press (Cambridge, England), Saturday, April 17, 1869; pg. 7; Issue 2787. British Library Newspapers, Part IV: 1732-1950).

 

While a great deal of time has been spent creating the timelines, please keep in mind that this is ongoing research, and any new information that is relevant to the timelines will be added. Please feel free to comment, I would love to hear your thoughts.