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Victorian Timeline

Events & Inventions During Dickens’ Lifetime

Timeline

1812

  • Charles Dickens born.
  • Britain at war with France and United States.

1815

  • Napoleon Bonaparte defeated by Wellington at Waterloo.
  • Corn Laws enacted in Britain, preventing entry of cheap grain and keeping farm wages low and bread prices high.

1819

  • Birth of Victoria.

1820

  • Death of old, mad King George III. The Prince Regent becomes George IV.

1829

  • Opening of Liverpool-Manchester Railway, the first railway between two major cities and the beginning of railroad expansion.
  • First police force — the “Bobbies.”

1830

  • Death of George IV. Ascension of William IV, “Sailor Billy.”
  • First railroad and long distance telegraph line within England.

1832

  • Reform Bill enacted, eliminating rotten boroughs and corruption in Parliament elections and giving votes to £10 householders, thereby extending power to the middle class.

1833

  • Slavery abolished in British Empire.

1836

  • Dickens writes Pickwick, receives instant fame.

1837

  • William IV dies.
  • Victoria ascends throne; Victorian age begins.

1838

  • First steamship crosses Atlantic.
  • Beginning of Daguerreotypes.

1840

  • Victoria marries Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who brings to England the first Tannenbaum, or Christmas tree.
  • Vulcanized rubber developed.

1842

  • Dickens visits America, returns disillusioned.

1843

  • Dickens writes A Christmas Carol.
  • Beginning of music halls.
  • First Christmas card.

1846

  • Corn Laws repealed.
  • First operation performed under anesthesia in Britain.

1847

  • Potato famine in Ireland; thousands starve and emigrate.
  • Ten Hours Bill enacted, limiting the work day to 10 hours.
  • First toy rubber balloons.
  • First municipal water supply (Manchester).

1848

  • First Public Health Act in Britain.
  • Gold discovered in California.
  • Europe is rocked by short-lived revolutions; Paris, Berlin, and Vienna run with blood.
  • Louis Napoleon, nephew of the Emperor, becomes President of France.
  • England remains stable, and 1846-1866 is a period of quiet Whig rule.

1850s

  • Steam-powered ships beginning to overtake sailing ships.

1851

  • Gold discovered in Australia.
  • The Great Exhibition opens near London in the Crystal Palace.

1852

  • Dickens begins public readings.
  • Duke of Wellington dies.
  • Louis Napoleon declares himself Emperor Napoleon III; he is not taken seriously.

1854

  • Crimean War begins, Britain versus Russia over Turkey (Charge of the Light Brigade, Florence Nightingale, abysmal hospital conditions with death rate of wounded at 42%).
  • Yorkshire mill owner builds “model village” near his factory for his workers.
  • Bessemer process for production of steel.

1855

  • First safety matches.

1857

  • Great mutiny in India; British outrage over massacres sends troops to crush vestiges of Indian independence; India ruled by Britain until 1948.
  • Transatlantic Telegraph cable between England and America.

1858

  • First ironclad ship completed.

1859

  • Charles Darwin publishes Origin of Species to general uproar.
  • First asphalt street surface.

1860

  • The Civil War begins in America. Britain is divided between economic sympathy for the South (which supplies cotton to British mills) and moral sympathy for the North (which is battling a slave society). Lincoln is considered a backwoods geek.
  • First practical internal combustion engine.

1861

  • Prince Albert dies; Victoria mourns until her death in 1901.
  • Italy becomes a United Kingdom.
  • Russian serfs are emancipated.

1862

  • Pasteur’s work proves connection between bacteria and disease.

1863

  • Lincoln emancipates slaves.

1865

  • Founding of the Salvation Army.

1866

  • Transatlantic telegraph cable.

1867

  • Reform Bill enacted, extending voting rights to most working-class males.

1868

  • Dickens’ second trip to America; his readings net him £20,000.

1869

  • First bicycle manufacturing plant.

1870

  • Charles Dickens dies of a stroke at age 58, having completed 14 major novels.
  • First typewriter.
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Lifespans of Significant Victorian Writers, Musicians, & Artists

Infographic of the lifespans of significant victorian writers, musicians, & artists

“I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.”

~ Charlotte Brontë

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