Victorian Literature and Material Culture Timeline

This timeline will include historic events related to our course texts and the objects each class member has chosen for their material culture research project. 


Chronological table

Displaying 1 - 11 of 11
Date Event Created by Associated Places
circa. 1758

First Threshing Machine

The first threshing maching dates back to 1758

Chancellor Carter
16 Oct 1811

National Society for the Education of Poor Children founded

On 16 October 1811, the National Society for the Education of Poor Children in the Principles of the Established Church (the Church of England) was founded to establish “National Schools.” According to their founders, poor children were to be taught to avoid vice and behave in an orderly manner within their station. To limit costs, the monitorial system was employed, by which more advanced pupils taught younger ones.

Related Articles

Florence S. Boos, “The Education Act of 1870: Before and After”

David Rettenmaier
7 Feb 1812

Charles Dickens is born

Charles Dickens is born in Portsmouth.

Carmen Thorley
circa. 1818

William Cubitt invents the Tread Mill

William Cubitt, who was from a family of millwrights in Norfolf, invented the treadmill in 1818 as tool for grinding corn via human labour. The idea quickly caught on that the device might be used by inmates performing "hard labor," and thus render them useful to society. Brixton Prison in London was one of the first to use the deviced in such a manner. 

Ashley Nadeau
25 Apr 1827 to 30 Jun 1830

Issac Solomon Escapes Newgate Prison

Issac Solomon Escapes Prison

Isaac "Ikey" Solomon, the real life inspiration for Fagin, was held at Newgate Prison for a few months before his father-in-law arranged for a prison break by replacing the driver of a carriage meant to transport Solomon to court on right of Habeas Corpus (Ikey claiming his imprisonment was unlawful) then driving the carriage down a side street where Solomon’s friends were waiting to assault the carriage. They succeeded and Solomon fled to the United States. Only to later head to Australia and later be shipped back to England for trial several years later.  

Aaron Cope
circa. The start of the month Autumn 1830 to circa. Winter 1831

Swing Riots

Swing Riots of 1830 in which agricultural workers in Elham Valley, near Kent, destroyed threshing machines, burned ricks, smashed barns and workhouses, and maimed cattle—in short, attacked the visible signs of the new capitalist relations being imposed on agrarian production and rural life, more broadly.

Chancellor Carter
Aug 1830 to Dec 1830

Swing Riots

Henry Heath printThe Swing Riots, which occurred from August 1830 to December 1830, were a series of riots by agricultural workers that resulted from the Enclosure Acts, in general, and the introduction of threshing machines in East Kent, more specifically. The Swing Riots are named after the fictitious “Captain Swing,” the figurehead for the movement. Image: Print by Henry Heath entitled “Swing!” (1830). Reproduced with permission from The British Museum.

Related Articles

Carolyn Lesjak, "1750 to the Present: Acts of Enclosure and Their Afterlife" (forthcoming)

David Rettenmaier
Jul 1832

Anatomy Act

British Coat of ArmsIn response to the growing trade in corpses for anatomy schools, and in particular to the sensational murders of Burke and Hare to acquire such corpses, Parliament passed The Anatomy Act in July 1832, giving access to corpses that were unclaimed after death. Most of these were those who died in prison or workhouses, and whose families could not afford to claim or bury them. Image: The Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Related Articles

Pamela Gilbert, "On Cholera in Nineteenth-Century England"

David Rettenmaier
Apr 1836 to Nov 1837

Pickwick Papers

From April 1836 to November 1837, Charles Dickens’s The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club is published in twenty monthly numbers, catalyzing the market for monthly serials.


Michelle Allen-Emerson, “On Magazine Day”

David Rettenmaier
Feb 1837 to Apr 1839

Oliver Twist

Photo of Charles DickensFrom February 1837 to April 1839, Charles Dickens published Oliver Twist. Image: Photograph of Charles Dickens by Jeremiah Gurney, c. 1867-1868 (at the Heritage Auction Gallery). This image is in the public domain in the United States as its copyright has expired.

Related Articles

Heidi Kaufman, “1800-1900: Inside and Outside the Nineteenth-Century East End”

Michelle Allen-Emerson, “On Magazine Day”

David Rettenmaier
30 Apr 1859

All the Year Round founded

Cover of All the Year RoundFirst issue of All the Year Round appears on 30 April 1859.

All the Year Round was the first magazine with Dickens as proprietor-editor, and home to first important sensation novel, Woman in White.


Linda K. Hughes, "On New Monthly Magazines, 1859-60"

David Rettenmaier