Ticket-holders admitted to this auditorium since 27 September 2001:

A Chronology of Planché's Times

This list grew, serendipitously, from a desire to illustrate some of the topical references made in Planché's works.  It has since taken over my efforts for several months.  It has come to encompass a number of British and international events, in order to show something of the world Planché inhabited.  For instance, discoveries spoofed in the revue The New Planet, including the existence of Uranus and the formula for gun cotton, led to the inclusion of other astronomical discoveries and inventions, to put things in a fuller context.  What follows does not pretend to be a complete history of major events of the nineteenth century; such is left for wiser minds than mine.  It is, however, a fair sampling of issues of which Planché was aware, plus a few which touched future generations.

1780--Charles Nodier is born in Besançon, France.

1786--John Pritt Harley is born.

Composer Henry R. Bishop is born.

In Eutin, Holstein, Carl-Maria von Weber is born.

1787--In Prague, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart debuts Don Giovanni.

1788--The first steam-powered watercraft, a catamaran, crosses Dalwinston Loch, operated by William Symington, a colleague of James Watt.

1789--The severe discipline and harsh temper of Captain William Bligh (a veteran of Captain Cook's final voyage and the war with France following the French Revolution, himself a fine sailor but not a good leader) prompt First Mate Fletcher Christian and several other men to mutiny on board the HMS Bounty while she is on a mission to obtain breadfruit trees from the Pacific Islands for transplanting in Jamaica.  Twenty-five men rebel, while eighteen remain loyal to Bligh.  They are all set adrift in a longboat near Tonga.  Despite Bligh's temper and intransigence, he is an excellent commander under extreme circumstances, and he and his supporters journey for seven weeks, crossing more than thirty-six hundred miles to Timor in Indonesia, and only losing one man to a violent attack by Polynesians along the way.  The mutineers later split up; sixteen opt to remain in Tahiti while nine sail away on the Bounty.  Of those who remain, all are captured by the Royal Navy.

In Paris, tragedian François-Joseph Talma shocks theater-goers by appearing as Brutus (in Voltaire's tragedy of that title) in a toga copied from Roman art.  Theater of the time usually dressed people in contemporary clothing; many find the toga undignified.

Of somewhat greater importance to later history, the French Revolution starts in France, with a whirlwind rush from oppression to attempted democracy, to chaos and mass slaughter.

1790--On 15 January, Fletcher Christian, eight of the other Bounty mutineers, and their Tahitian wives settled on Pitcairn Island.  Accompanying them are also a few Tahitian men.

1791--Playwright Augustin-Eugène Scribe is born in Paris.

American playwright John Howard Payne is born in New York City.

Construction of the third Drury Lane Theatre begins.

1792--Bounty mutineer Fletcher Christian dies, a gentle man who kept the nine mutineers and their Tahitian allies from violence against one another.  With his death, the Pitcairn colony is plunged into intrigues, and eventually, chaos and murder.

On 29 April, France declares war on Austria.

On 29 September, the Convention Nationale in Paris declares France a republic.

1793--William Charles Macready is born in London on 3 March.  While he does not yet appear in tragedy, he is already using his fine voice to move his auditors to his whim.

France adopts a secular calendar, beginning on 22 September.  Although it will remain officially in effect for well over a decade, it never really catches on with the French people.

1794--Belgian optician Etienne-Gaspard Robert (billing himself as "Robertson") opens a successful magic-lantern show in Paris

The third Drury Lane Theatre is completed.

French revolutionary Maximilian Robespierre is executed on 28 July.  He who lives by the guillotine dies by the guillotine?

1796--Planché is born in London.

Elizabeth St. George is born.

In Haiti, Toussaint Louverture becomes leading general of Haitian War of Independence.

Richard Trevithick builds a toy-sized prototype of a steam locomotive.  It works.

Twenty-five year-old Walter Scott publishes two translations of German ballads, The Chase and William and Helen.  They are his first published works.

1797--Elizabeth Lucia Bartolozzi (later Madame Vestris and Mrs. C.J. Mathews) is born.  She is sometimes referred to as "Lucia Elizabeth."  Although often treated by the English public as a foreign celebrity, she was English-born of mixed Italian and French ancestry.

Aboard the HMS Nore, Captain William Bligh again provokes his seamen to mutiny.

Prime Minister William Pitt and his Irish Secretary, Lord Castlereagh, try to work for Catholic Emancipation, but are thwarted by King George III.

1798--Irish Rebellion occurs.  "The Wearing of the Green" becomes a symbolic gesture on behalf of Irish Home Rule.

Napoléon invades Egypt, defeats native Mamelukes at the Battle of the Pyramids in July.

In August, Bonaparte is defeated by Horatio Nelson and the British Navy at the Bay of Aboukir.

Carl-Maria von Weber composes his first opus, Sechs Fughetten ("Six Fugues").

"Robertson" moves his show into a larger building, an old Capuchin monastery.  He calls it "Fantasmagorie" (in English, "Phantasmagoria").  It pretends to be a lecture on the power of superstition to create hallucinations, but in truth becomes the world's first horror show, as specters rise out of graves and various horrid scenes (such as the witches in Macbeth) come to life.

1799--The Irish Rebellion is crushed by the forces of George III.  Many leaders of the Rebellion, including Father John Murphy and French-born James ("Napper") Tandy are captured.  Many are deported to penal colonies in Australia, some, like Fr. Murphy, are put to death, and become martyrs in the eyes of their countrymen.

In July, Napoléon Bonaparte engages the forces of Turkey and Egypt at the Battle of the Pyramids.

Click here to return to Contents.

1800--As a result of the Rebellion, the Irish Parliament is dissolved, ending a tradition of semi-independence of the Irish.

Scottish inventor James Watt retires at the age of sixty-two.

Richard Trevithick develops a double-action steam-driven pump for a mine in Cornwall.  It is called, appropriately, the Cornish engine.  (One must also be impressed by the essential modesty of Trevithick, one of those geniuses who did NOT name things for himself.)

1801--Haitian government is established.

The Act of Union establishes Ireland as fully part of the United Kingdom; the diagonal red Cross of St. Patrick is added to the Union Jack (itself a union of the Cross of St. George and the Cross of St. Andrew), creating the still-familiar British flag we know today.

Giuseppe Piazzi discovers Ceres, the first asteroid to be catelogued.

Richard Trevithick develops a steam-powered cart with its own boiler.  The cart, nicknamed the Puffing Devil, moves at about nine miles per hour on flat ground.  As an experiment, it is a success, but proves to be impractical.

Paul de Philipsthal, a French showman, brings a phantasmagoria to the Lyceum Theatre.

1802--Toussaint Louverture captured by French forces.

Napper Tandy is freed through intervention by Napoléon Bonaparte, and goes to live in France.

Heinrich Olbers discovers Pallas, the second asteroid to be catelogued.

John Baldwin Buckstone is born.

An English phantasmagoria is shown by Mark Lonsdale at the Lyceum.  Similar shows spring up across London, and throughout Britain, during the next three years.

Walter Scott begins publishing his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, important both for their own sakes and as the beginning of a career bringing Scottish culture and insight to millions of readers outside Scotland.

1803--Toussaint Louverture dies in French prison from neglect.  However, within months, dispirited French and Spanish troops leave Haiti.

Charles James Mathews, son of comedian Charles Mathews, Sr., is born.

In Wales, Richard Trevitchick and Oliver Evans invent the first locomotive, the Penydarren, combining his insights from steam power and the old tramways or railed roads used for animal-drawn freight in the eighteenth century.  It hauls ten tons of freight, five wagons, and seventy people nine miles at an average speed of five miles per hour.  Unfortunately, it is so heavy it crushes the rails on which it rides, and is abandoned after its third trip.  (For more information, one very good site which may be of use is spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RApenydarren.htm.)

Walter Scott completes his three volumes of Minstrelsy.

John Phillip Kemble and his sister, Sarah Siddons, begin to appear at Covent Garden (they have previously acted at Drury Lane, but evidently found Drury dreary).

The phantasmagoria first appears "across the pond," in the US.

Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) is first colonized by John Bowen at the request of the Governor of Sydney.

1804--Karl Harding discovers Juno, the third asteroid to be catelogued.

The first Corn Law, imposing a duty on imported grain, is enacted by Parliament to protect the wealthy landowners and agriculturalists from competition with foreign farmers.  The burden this and successive Corn Laws are to place on the public is incredible, and helps lead to malnourishment, abject poverty, and even revolt in the years to come.

Napoléon crowns himself Emperor of the French in Paris in December, insulting the Pope (who had travelled to Paris to crown him in Notre-Dame Cathedral), but pleasing the French masses in what they interpret as a gesture of national pride and sovereignty.  Despite considering himself a loyal and sincere French patriot, Bonaparte, a Corsican native, was born of Italian family as Napoleone Buonaparte, and to the end of his life speaks French with a marked Italian accent.  He is deeply insulted if people mock his pronunciation or address him as Signor Buonaparte.

In the U.S., the expedition to explore the lands acquired by the Louisiana Purchase leaves under the command of Merriwether Lewis and William Clark.  Altogether, thirty men leave, including York, a slave owned by Clark.  Early in the journey, they also acquire Toussaint Charbonneau, a middle-aged Quebecois, his wife, Sacajawea (a Shoshone woman living among the Sioux), and their son, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau.  They are under instruction from President Thomas Jefferson to look for creatures known so far only by their skeletal remains--saber-toothed cats, giant ground sloths, and mastodons.

1805--Rebel Mameluke (mamluk) forces of Egypt massacred by forces of Turkish Sultan Selim III.

Captain William Bligh (formerly of the Bounty and the Nore),  is appointed governor of New South Wales.

Walter Scott publishes his long poem, The Lay of the Last Minstrel.

1806--Jane Scott, no relation to Walter, but rather the daughter of a wealthy manufacturer of laundry bluing, founds Adelphi Theatre in London (then known as the Sans Pareil).  At first she has the help of her father, John Scott, and her brother, but she becomes, within a few years, the first woman in Britain to direct a theater on her own.

John Stuart Mill is born in London to philosopher James Mill and the lady who put up with the latter's philosphising.

Russia invades territories of Turkish Empire.

Lewis and Clark expedition returns to European-settled areas.

In November, Napoléon Bonaparte declares the United Kingdom to be under a blockade, and forbids ships from sailing to British ports, although he is not especially successful in enforcing the blockade.  This is the "Berlin Proclamation."

1807--Heinrich Olbers discovers Vesta, fourth asteroid to be catelogued.

In Turkey itself, the Janissaries (foreign-born soliders converted to Islam) overthrow Selim later in the year.  Selim, who reigned since 1789, is replaced by Mustafa IV.

In US (New York), future actor Ira Aldridge is born.

George Gordon, Lord Byron, publishes his first volume of poetry.

Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies are published with sheet music by John Stevenson.

In South Africa, Dingiswayo, the first of the great Zulu empire-builders, begins the expansion of Zulu influence and territory which will eventually uproot many neighboring nations, and help create the chaos which will allow the Dutch (Afrikaners) and British settlers to invade the interior of South Africa.

In the "Milan Decree," Napoléon further states that any ship having intercourse in any way with British ports, ships, or nationals, shall be considered and treated as a British vessel.  (In other words, fired upon.)

1808--French troops, on behalf of Joseph Bonaparte, newly-appointed King of Spain, enter Mexico to put down support of Spanish Hapsburg monarchy.

Arthur Wellesley (born Wesley) sent to Portugal to support anti-Bonapartists.

In Turkey, Mustafa IV is replaced by Sultan Mahmud II.

Serbs rebel against Turkish rule.

John and Leigh Hunt (the latter the poet and critic) found the Examiner.  Radical at the time, it advocates many issues which later become British law, such as the abolition of slavery and the granting of full citizens' rights to Catholics.

Covent Garden Theatre burns down.

Mayhew Folger, captain of an American seal-hunting vessel, and his crew become the first outsiders in eighteen years to meet the settlers of Pitcairn Island.  Most of the original mutineers have perished, some to drunken fighting or suicide, others to natural causes, but one seaman, John Adams, survives, and acts as patriarch and religious guide to the small community, which is industrious, agrarian, and Christian.

William Bligh is imprisoned by army mutineers in the Rum Rebellion.  He has managed to offend them with his severe rule and his lack of tact.  Bligh is released shortly afterward, but the rebels, lead by Major George Johnstone, refuse to allow Bligh to govern.

Richard Trevithick develops a more practical locomotive, the Catch-Me-Who-Can.  It moves in a big circle on iron track, but proves that steam powered land transportation can work.

Walter Scott publishes Marmion, another book-length narrative poem.

1809--First decisive Portuguese victories against Napoléon.

Byron leaves Britain on the Grand Tour.

The supposedly fireproof Drury Lane building of the 1790s burns down.

The rebuilt Covent Garden Theatre is opened.

"Robertson" brings his phantasmagoria show to the UK and scores great successes.

Felix Mendelssohn is born.

Governor Lachlan Macquairie arrives in New South Wales to assume the government of the colony from Major Johnstone.  Governor Macquairie, a Scot from Mull, proves far more humane than most previous governors and makes the penal colony at Botany Bay into a livable community with an infrastructure and recognition of the basic rights of even convicts to conscionable treatment.

Click here to return to Contents.

1810--(approximately) Mary Anning, then a child, finds first-known English fossil of an ichthyosaur near Lyme Regis.

In Mexico, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rings church bells in town of Dolores, summoning hundreds of parishioners (mostly mestizos and Natives) to rally against French troops.  Cry of "Viva la independencia!" becomes slogan of Mexican nationalism for generations.

W.C. Macready debuts at age seventeen as Romeo in Birmingham.  He really has no intention, at this time, of becoming a career actor.

Arthur Wellesley is created Viscount of Wellington in recognition of his actions in the Iberian Campaign.

In the US, Shawnee war leader and statesman Tecumseh opposes further European settlement of territories which became Indiana and Ohio.  He and his brother, Tenskwatawa ("the Prophet," as the English-speaking settlers called him) led a coalition of Native nations against the US Army.  Although ultimately defeated by William Henry Harrison, the pair provided valiant leadership.

Army mutineers from the Rum Rebellion are recalled to Britain from New South Wales.  Bligh is vindicated.  A retired officer and colonial businessman, John Macarthur, whose arrest sparked the rebellion, is exiled from New South Wales until 1817.

Walter Scott publishes The Lady of the Lake, his most successful book-length narrative poem.

1811--Father Hidalgo is captured and shot by French forces, becoming a martyr for Mexican independence.

Tecumseh is defeated by W. H. Harrison at the Battle of Tippecanoe.

King George III begins to show signs of increasing madness.

In Egypt, Mameluke forces again are massacred, this time by the forces of Mahmud II.

Byron returns to Britain; his mother dies.

In October, Jane Austen's first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, appears anonymously, years afterit was written.  Austen is only two months shy of her thirty-sixth birthday and has been writing since she was a teenager, but found no willing publishers.  It is, however, a success.

Sir Humphrey Davy invents the electric arc light.

Captain William Bligh is promoted to Rear Admiral.

1812--Byron's fame grows as he publishes the first parts of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.

Benjamin Wyatt completes construction of the new (fourth) Drury Lane Theatre.

On 7 February, Charles John Huffam Dickens is born.  He will later become an author, but without some of the names.

British forces in the War of 1812 are commanded by General Brock.

Treaty of Bucharest ends six-year war between Russian and Turkey.

On 29 June, Sarah Siddons retires from the stage.

In November, Pride and Prejudice appears, as Austen takes off after finally getting published.

Napoléon's eastward push into Russia is weakened by the forces of General Kutuzov near the village of Borodino, raging from 6 September to 8 September.  .

"Boney" enters the mostly-empty city of Moscow on 14 September, and occupies it until 19 October, when he leaves to return to France.  Between French looting and Russian resistance, much of the city has been burned by the time the French leave.

1813--Growing opposition to the forces of the French Empire lead to the destruction of the Grande Armée near Leipzig at the "Battle of the Nations," so called from the multi-national forces allying themselves against France.

Peter Durand, working for the Royal Navy, invents the tin can to preserve food.  His cans must be opened with hammers and chisels.

Tecumseh perishes in battle with W. H. Harrison near Moraviantown, Ontario, while fighting on the side of the British General Proctor.

Serbians gain new autonomy as the result of their rebellion.

Walter Scott publishes Rokeby, another book-length narrative poem.

John and Leigh Hunt are imprisoned for their criticism of the Prince Regent in the Examiner.  They will continue to write while in prison.  (Some people never know when to quit!)

1814--Edmund Kean, aged twenty-two, makes his first professional London appearance in The Merchant of Venice on 26 January.  Shylock will become one of his most famous roles.

Napoléon Bonaparte is defeated by a coalition of nations including the British and Russians when Paris is captured on 30 March.  The Emperor is sent into exile at Elba.  Austrian minister Metternich and British minister Talleyrand orchestrate the restoration of the House of Bourbon (in the person of Louis XVIII, brother to the executed Louis XVI) to the throne in Paris, although this restoration does not take place until 1817.

In May, Jane Austen's Mansfield Park is published.

Drawing upon the work of Richard Trevithick, American inventor George Stephenson develops his own version of the locomotive, which he names the Blucher.

At age seventeen, Eliza Bartolozzi marries French ballet dancer Auguste-Armand Vestris, himself the son of a particularly notable master of French ballet, Auguste Vestris.

Charles Dibdin, Sr. dies.

Inventor of the modern circus, Philip Astley, dies in Paris at age seventy-two.

The metronome is invented in Austria by J.-N. Maelzel.

During a battle in the War of 1812 (the North American issue of the Napoleonic War, with the United States supporting France against the United Kingdom), Francis Scott Key writes his poem, The Defense of Fort McHenry, which later becomes the Star-Spangled Banner (set to an old tune, Anacreon in Heaven).  Key is a prisoner of war of the British, who treat him well and even supply him with the materials to write his poem.

The British vessels HMS Targus and HMS Briton discover the Pitcairn colony on their own.  Captain Folger had reported his discovery, but the Royal Navy had paid little attention to him.  The captains decide not to arrest John Adams, even though he is still officially wanted for mutiny, but instead express admiration for the sturdy community which he and the Tahitian women built.

Rear Admiral William Bligh is promoted to Vice Admiral.

Walter Scott writes Waverly, his first novel dealing with Scottish history.  He will publish it anonymously.

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, a twenty-two year old from a literary family, meets poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and runs away with him a few months later (in July).  They live in France for well over a year before marrying.

1815--Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle is constructed to commemorate the British victory over the French.

Napoléon escapes from Elba, again becomes the leader of France for approximately one hundred days, from 20 March to 28 June.  This period is known as the "Cent jours" or "One Hundred Days" (duh).  He wins victories in Belgium, but is defeated by the coalition of allies commanded by the Viscount of Wellington.  Napoléon is captured and sent into exile at British possession of St. Helena.  Despite his danger as an enemy leader, many Britons express personal admiration for "Boney."  While in exile, Napoléon seems to have a sexless love affair with the teenaged daughter of the British governor of the island.

With the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Parliament enacts a second Corn Law, to force the price of bread to remain at very inflated war-time shortage levels.

Scottish engineer John Loudon MacAdam becomes Surveyor General of Bristol roads.

John and Leigh Hunt are released from prison.

Divorced from her first husband, Eliza Vestris begins performing on her own in Italian opera, first in Paris and then in her native London.

John Macarthur encourages immigrants to come to New South Wales to farm its rich lands.

Walter Scott publishes The Lord of the Isles, another book-length narrative poem.  Its title is still in the public consciousness in 1820, when Planché writes The Vampire; or, the Bride of the Isles.  The husband of Lady Margaret--the bride of the title--is Ronald, Lord of the Isles.

Walter Scott also publishes his second "Waverly" novel, Guy Mannering, which becomes a particular favorite for melodramatic adaptation.

Washington Irving travels to Liverpool on family business.  While in the United Kingdom, he meets Walter Scott and also observes the everyday life of the people.  With Scott's encouragement, he works his observations into essays and literary sketches.

In December, Jane Austen publishes Emma.

1816--John L. MacAdam publishes Remarks on the Present System of Road-Making, based on his own experiments.  He later becomes the inventor of "macadamizing," a system of road construction using gravel for greater drainage and stability, and the ancestor of the "macadam" roads which are still built in many countries.  Eventually, as his reputation grows, punsters will refer to MacAdam as the "Colossus of Roads."

W.C. Macready debuts in London as a melodramatic actor.  He is now twenty-three years of age.  His fame will grow quickly over the next few years.

Byron leaves Britain forever, longing for a country where his sexual adventures would be viewed more tolerantly.

Richard Trevithick goes to Peru to build steam-powered mine pumps.

Henry Hunt, after spending six weeks in prison for allegedly poaching pheasants, embarks on a campaign of speaking in favor of governmental reform, several times speaking to tens of thousands of listeners at one time (and with no microphones or loudspeakers!)

A very bad harvest, combined with the Corn Laws, forces grain prices so high that many face immediate famine.  Food riots occur all over the United Kingdom.  Parliament does nothing to alleviate the problem, which seems to be worst right around Manchester.

In Rome, Gioacchino Rossini debuts Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville).

Jane Austen publishes Persuasion.

Walter Scott publishes the final of his "Waverly" novels, The Antiquary.  Together, these novels cover three generations of Scottish history, ending near Scott's present.

Scott also publishes his first of the "Tales of My Landlord," The Black Dwarf and Old Mortality.

Leigh Hunt publishes The Story of Rimini.

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and Percy Bysshe Shelley marry.

1817--Planché first writes for the stage (Amoroso, the King of Little Britain); he makes friends with J.P. Harley.

Leigh Hunt introduces the poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley.  (Hunt has been friends with Shelley for years, and even knows how to pronounce his middle name.)

In Glasgow, William Murdoch (originally of Ayrshire and a former employee of James Watt) founds the Glasgow Gas Light Company, the first lighting company in the world.

In southern Africa, Shaka Zulu begins ten years of warfare to unite the Zulus.  He replaces Dingiswayo as the war-leader.

Louis XVIII becomes the King of France in an effort to restore the Bourbon hegemony.

Byron publishes Manfred, whose atmosphere of the supernatural will help shape fiction and drama in Britain for many years.

Carl-Maria von Weber assumes direction of the opera at Dresden, Saxony.

On 18 July, Jane Austen dies of a then-unknown disease at forty-one.

Vice Admiral William Bligh dies at age sixty-three.  His old opponent, John Macarthur, is allowed to return to New South Wales in the same year.

1818--Dr. John William Polidori, a traveling companion and one-time friend of George Gordon, Lord Byron, and of Mary and Percy Shelley, engages in an evening's conversation with these and another man.  Their topic is the supernatural.  An idea of Byron's inspires Dr. Polidori, who begins the serial publication of The Vampyre.  In the meanwhile, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley goes on to write the novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, which she publishes this year, also.

Walter Scott publishes Rob Roy and The Heart of Midlothian, his next "Tales."

Henry Hunt is elected as MP for Winchester by only a handful of votes.

Priscilla Horton is born.

The allies' Peace Congress convenes in Vienna; the Viscount of Wellington impresses many diplomats and dignitaries with his honor and integrity.

Rush-Bagot Treaty in North American disarms the US-Canadian border, putting an end to tensions resulting from the War of 1812.

1819--John L. MacAdam publishes A Practical Essay on the Scientific Repair and Preservation of Roads.

The first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean, the Savanah, arrives in Liverpool on 20 June.  Just guess what Georgia city it sailed from!!!!

Scots Charles Macintosh and his partner Thomas Hancock develop a waterproofed cloth.  

Princess Victoria is born to Edward, the Duke of Kent, and Princes Victoria of Saxe-Coburg.

James Watt dies.

The Anglo-American Convention fixes the boundaries of the United States and Canada at the 49th Parallel.

In Manchester, the non-violent gathering of working-class people supporting Parliamentary reform and repeal of the Corn Laws is charged by local yeomanry, killing eleven people in St. Peter's Fields outside the city.  The incident becomes known as the "Peterloo Massacre."  Ten of the leaders of the gathering, supporters of unions and free trade in grain, are put on trial as if they are guilty of the violence, including Henry Hunt.  Hunt is sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment in Ilchester Gaol; other of the leaders are also sentenced to prison for varying terms.  Anger among the non-voting public (the majority of men and all women, of course) runs high, but the voting (landed) public generally views the reformers, with their doctrine of universal male (and in some cases, female) suffrage as dangerous rabble-rousers.

Washington Irving's English observations begin appearing as The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.  The subjects and his genial treatment of people on both sides of the ocean endeared him to British readers, making him one of the first truly popular American writers in the UK.

Walter Scott publishes The Bride of Lammermoor and The Legend of Montrose, both favorites for melodramatic and operatic adaptation.

Scott also moves to non-Scottish subjects, publishing Ivanhoe this year.

Click here to return to Contents.

1820--Planché marries Elizabeth St. George.  He also sees Charles-Gabriel Potier (ever after a favorite performer) as the title character in Riquet à la houppe (at the Théatre St.-Martin) while on their honeymoon in Paris.

King George III dies, presumably from complications related to porphyria.  His son, George IV, ascends the throne on 29 January.

On St. Helena, Napoléon Bonaparte dies on 2 July at age fifty-one from a stomach condition which seems to have been either a bleeding ulcer or a form of cancer.  His last words, reportedly, were of France, his son (then Duke of Reichstadt in Germany), and glory.  Although feared around the world, he is also mourned by many who saw him as great.

Dramatist Charles Nodier writes and produces Le Vampire, based upon Dr. Polidori's novella of the previous year, and also inspired by Parisian fascination with Scotland.  It becomes the first self-consciously Romantic French drama.

Henry Hunt is released from jail.  He immediately reurns to activism, publicly reading an essay he wrote in prison.

Ali Pasha Tepedelenli (born 1744), “the Lion of Joannina” (Yanina), a Turkish brigand chief who earlier had bribed and assassinated his way into the governorship of Albania, Epirus, and Thessaly, is captured by officers of the Sultan.

Washington Irving's Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon continues until more than thirty observations of British and American life are published.

Scott writes more historical fictions which are not about Scotland, The Monastery and The Abbot.

1821--Britain claims the Gold Coast as a colony on 15 January.

Thomas Brownbill, later to become Frederick Robson, is born on 22 February in Margate.  His parents are Phillip and Margaret Brownbill, about whom little is known  (Sands 15).

Sonnino brigand chief Alessandro Massaroni (born 1790) is executed for his part in a struggle of northern Italians against the power of the Papal States and of Austria.  Just before death, he boasts to the executioner that his head is worth a great deal of money (a reference to the reward for his capture) and so must be taken care of once it is removed.

Alexandros Ypsilantis, a Greek patriot, attacks the forces of the Turkish Sultan in the province of Moldava in March, initiating the eleven-year revolution of the Greeks against the Turks.

Carl-Maria von Weber composes score of Der Freischütz, the first great German Romantic opera.

Chemist Michael Faraday invents the electric motor, building on the already-existent electromagnet.

Walter Scott publishes Kenilworth, which Planché adapts for the Sans Pareil Theatre.

1822--Mary Ann Mantell, wife of an English country physician, discovers first known tooth of Iguanodon while taking a long walk.

Eighteen year-old Marie Taglioni, Swedish-born daughter of Italian choreographer Filippo Taglioni, makes her professional debut in Vienna, in a production directed by her father.  Eventually, he invents the technique of "toe dancing" for her, and ballet is changed forever.

Ali Pasha Tepedelenli is executed for treason and open rebellion against the Turkish government.

Foreign Secretary Lord Castlerereagh dies by his own hand.

Charles Dickens, as a child, moves to London.

The Congress of Verona sees alliance of former allies against Bonaparte weaken, despite the diplomatic efforts of the Viscount of Wellington.

Frederick Robson is born.

Washington Irving publishes his continuation of the Sketch Book, titled Bracebridge Hall.

Walter Scott publishes The Fortunes of Nigel and The Pirate, which Planché adapted at the Sans Pareil Theatre.

1823--Mary Anning discovers the first-known plesiosaur fossil near Lyme Regis.

Daniel O'Connell founds Catholic Association in Ireland, demanding full Catholic Emancipation.

John L. MacAdam's system of road construction is adopted by Parliament for use throughout the United Kingdom.

Rugby is developed by William Ellis.

Charles Macintosh, utilizing his waterproofed cloth, invents the raincoat, which he calls the "macintosh."  Wherever did he get the name?

Napoléon Bonaparte's memoirs, written at St. Helena, are published in France.

King Kamehameha II and Queen Kamemalu of Hawai'i take ill with measles while visiting the UK.  They both die on 14 July.

Byron travels to Greece on behalf of London-based philanthropists who wish to contribute to the efforts of the Greek revolutionaries.  He takes command of a group of Suliot soldiers.

Walter Scott publishes Quentin Durward.

As part of a continuing authorial career, Mary Shelley publishes Valperga.

John Howard Payne, the first American playwright to gain respect in Britain, writes the libretto for Henry R. Bishop's opera, Clari; or, the Maid of Milan, including its most famous song, There's No Place Like Home.  The opera debuts at Covent Garden.

Ali Pacha; or, the Signet Ring debuts.

In Vienna, Ludwig van Beethoven completes his Missa Solemnis, which causes controversy because music continues to play during the point at which the Host should be elevated (suggesting Beethoven truly meant it as a concert piece, rather than as accompaniment for worship).

1824--Mary Anning discovers fossil of Pterodactylus macronyx near Lyme Regis (first British find of pterodactyl fossil).

Louis XVIII of France dies and is succeeded by his brother, Charles X.

The Kemble production of King John in this year allows Planché to pursue his dream of historically-accurate costume.  He is, in truth, bringing to fruition a movement started by such figures as the Irish tragedian Charles Macklin, who in 1773 is credited with first trying to play Shakespeare in historical costume (although he had Macbeth in a costume whose accuracy Planché would later disavow).

Byron, his health destroyed by years of free living, cannot maintain the harsh life of a soldier, and dies at age thirty-six.  His body is refused burial in Westminster Abbey owing to perceptions of him as immoral.

William Etty, at age thirty-seven, exhibits his first painting publicly, Pandora Crowned by the Seasons.  It begins his most typical theme, a treatment of female figures in a mythological setting which is meant to be both strongly sensual and at the same time beautiful in a spiritual and profound manner.  Such images help shape the presentation of the human figure on the stage in the decades to come.

The Westminster Review, a radical newpaper, is founded, in part by James Mill.  Contributors include Byron and many other prominent intellectuals of the day.  The paper publishes editorials calling for the abolition of a state church, of the monarchy, of the House of Lords, and the extention of full and equal citizenship rights (including the vote) to women.  The paper becomes one of the voices of "Chartism," a reform movement of the coming decade.

Walter Scott publishes Redgauntlet, another favorite of the contemporary stage.

Mary Shelley edits and publishes some of her late husband's works under the title Posthumous Poems.

Meanwhile, in the unrest which is rocking the Turkish Empire, Wallachia and Moladavia (Moldava) achieve autonomy.

Burma and Britain go to war over the Indian colonies.

The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is founded.

Charles Nodier moves to Paris, where he enters the literary life of the capital.

Ludwig van Beethoven completes his Ninth Symphony.

Twelve year-old Charles Dickens, his family ruined financially, goes to work in a boot-blacking factory, putting labels on bottles for the grand sum of six shillings a week.  Because he is not very good at doing this, he must eventually fall back on his other talent, becoming a famous author.  Actually, his experience at the factory is a decisive factor in teaching him sympathy for the poor and motivating him not to be poor ever again.

Britain establishes a trading post at Port Natal via a treaty with Shaka Zulu.  The Zulus are the major political and military force in the region.

In February, Burma invades parts of British India, and a war begins which will last two years.

1825--Gideon Mantell, Mary Ann's husband, publishes sketches and descriptions of several teeth of Iguanodon, which he names for their resemblance to iguana teeth.

In the US, the first North American commercial railway is built.

Edmund Kean is sued for adultery, and the resulting humiliation by the press injures his career and eventually Kean's health.

Also in the US, the Erie Canal is opened, one of the few financially successful venture in an era of fervent canal building.

In private audiences with the Pope, Viscount of Wellington negotiates a plan for limited Catholic Emancipation in Ireland, designed (in Wellington's view) to preserve greater stability than full Emancipation would.

Egyptian naval and land forces arrive in Greece to aid the Turkish soldiers, beginning a series of major setbacks for the Greek patriots.

Johann Strauss, Jr. is born in Vienna.

Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) becomes a separate colony from New South Wales.

Walter Scott publishes The Talisman, yet another melodramatist's goldmine.  Shortly after this, financial panic brings Scott and his publishers into crisis.  Scott volunteers to pay off a great debt he has incurred, rather than declaring bankruptcy.

1826--Britain defeats Burma.

Daniel O'Connell stands for election as the Member of Parliament for County Clare, even though, as a Catholic, he is not permitted to hold public office.  He easily defeats his Protestant opponent in a display of Irish solidarity.  Many politicians in London are embarrassed by the obvious injustice of the situation.  Their discomfort leads to the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829.

When war breaks out in Peru, Richard Trevithick flees to Costa Rica, then to Columbia, where he finally meets George Stephenson.

Henry Hunt stands for MP for Somerset, but is defeated.

The war with Burma ends with the Indian colonies firmly under British controll.

Athens is besieged by Egyptian and Turkish forces in summer.

Several Christian nations of Europe offer to negotiate a peace settlement between the Greeks and the Turks.

J.B. Buckstone writes his first great success, the semi-socialistic melodrama, Luke the Labourer, which debuts at the Adelphi Theatre.

W.C. Macready tours the United States for the first time.

Carl-Maria von Weber composes music for Oberon.  He dies a matter of weeks later, not, to be hoped, from the effects of Oberon, with which he was sorely disappointed.

1827--John L. MacAdam becomes the Surveyor General of Metropolitan Roads in Great Britain.

In February, Prime Minister Lord Liverpool resigns due to poor health after fifteen years in office.

George Hudson, a young man from York, invests a large sum of money in the North Midland Railway, beginning his career of buying railroad stock.  In years to come, he will become known as the "Railway King."

In France, Joseph-Nicephore Niepce invents the first photographic camera.

John Dalton comes up with an atomic theory, presumably the first articulated since ancient times.

The Acropolis falls to besiegers in June, after nearly a year of siege.  Explosions devastate the ancient temple of the Acropolis, which had stood almost undamaged from the time of Pericles.

The United Kingdom, France, and Russia send naval forces against the Turks and Egyptians in Greece.  They effectively stop the Turkish advances.

Vincenzo Bellini's opera, Il Pirate, debuts in Milan.

In Japan, the haiku-master Kobayashi Issa, known for his treatments of humble subjects in simple language, dies at age sixty-four.

Scott finally admits to having written the "Waverly" novels, although many have long suspected his authorship.  He was hesitant to admit to fine works, while many who write rubbish are eager to be named!

1828--In Nantes, France, fraternal twins Jules and Paul Verne are born.  Neither will become famous for more than three decades; one never will.

In Zululand, Shaka Zulu (gone quite mad) is assassinated by his brother, Dingane, who assumes the rule in his stead.

Viscount of Wellington is elevated to Duke in recognition of his public service.

George Stephenson gives Richard Trevithick the money to return to England.  Parliament refuses the appeal of several prominent scientists and inventors to grant Richard Trevithick a government pension, despite what his inventions have done for British working-class life.

Russia and Turkey enter a full-scale war, partially over growing friction regarding the Greek War of Independence.  Turkish military power is further weakened by this conflict.

In Leipzig, Heinrich Märschner debuts Der Vampyr, based on the Charles Nodier drama.

Leigh Hunt publishes Lord Byron and Some of His Contemporaries, based on his own personal acquaitance with the Romantic poets.

Edward Bulwer publishes Pelham.

W.C. Macready appears in Paris.  (I mean he acted, not just that he showed up.)

1829--Spurred by the success of Daniel O'Connell, Parliament passes the Catholic Emanicipation Act, allowing Catholics full legal and political rights in the United Kingdom.  O'Connell stands in a new election unopposed and becomes the first Catholic Member of Parliament.

Robert Peel establishes the first London Police Department.

In the US, George Stephenson develops the first really successful locomotive, the Rocket.

Russo-Turkish War ends.

Britain bans the "sattee" (the immolation of widows at their husband's funerals) in India.

William Etty begins painting The Storm, showing people in a lifeboat at sea.

Planché translates the libretto of Heinrich Märschner's Der Vampyr.

In Paris, Gioacchino Rossini composes L'Ouverture de Guillaume Tell (The William Tell Overture).

Perth, Australia's first settlement of free immigrants, is opened by James Stirling in Western Australia.

"Systematic colonization" of South Australia is first begun by Edward Gibbon Wakefield.

On Pitcairn Island, John Adams dies at age 62.  He is the last surviving of the Bounty mutineers.

Charles Kemble produces Romeo and Juliet at the Covent Garden Theatre.  His daughter, Fanny, appears in the title role.  (No, not Romeo.)  She is an immediate success, stunning people with her acting ability as a newcomer to the stage.  She also enraptures many audience members with her grace and beauty, despite thinking of herself as particularly unattractive.  (For this latter detail, see her Records of a Girlhood.)

William Makepeace Thackeray enrolls at Cambridge at the age of eighteen.  While there, he will encounter both Alfred Tennyson and Edward Fitzgerald, forming a close friendship with the latter man.

Click here to return to Contents.

1830--Charles X, the last direct heir of the Bourbon kings of France to rule that country, is deposed in the July Revolution, lead by Louis-Philippe, a distant relative of the Bourbons.  The new king is supported by the middle-class, and promises stability and prosperity.  He rules for almost two decades.

Duke of Reichstadt (Napoléon Bonaparte fils) dies.

King George IV dies, and is succeeded by King William IV (his brother) on 30 June.

Greece is recognized as an independent kingdom by European allies.

The first passenger railroad is opened in the US.

The first, rather anemic attempts are made during the coming decade to protect the Australian Aborigines from abuse and exploitation by white settlers.

For the first time in sixty years, the very conservative Tory Party becomes the minority party in Parliament, as the Whigs take the majority.  The crises caused by famine and by unresponsive government have started to take effect on the rather small, privileged electorate, and reform is coming, if slowly.  Earl Grey is the new Prime Minister.  (Yes, the same gentleman who developed the lovely tea recipe!)  High on his list is reforming the boundaries of districts represented by the MPs, some of whom have represented virtually uninhabited tracts of land, while major cities like Manchester and Leeds are not represented at all.

Henry Hunt stands for MP for Preston (a small community in which all taxpaying men could vote) and is elected to the House of Commons.  He speaks out on Radical issues, including a ten-hour workday and the abolition of child labor.  He achieves little success, however.

William Etty completes The Storm.  (It is not offered in miniature form as a "Tempest in a Teapot," however.)

1831--Eliza Vestris becomes joint lessee of the Olympic Theatre on Wych Street with melodramatic heartthrob Laura Honey as her partner.  However, as Honey seems to have preferred acting to managing, Vestris assumes full lesseeship quickly.  She also becomes known as the "Witch of Wych Street" in the press for her "enchanting" performances, productions, and stage presence.  She takes J.R. Planché, his partner, Charles Dance, C.J. Mathews, and James Bland into her employ immediately.

On 8 June, tragedian Sarah Siddons dies about a month before her seventy-sixth birthday.

On 21 August in Virginia, USA, slave Nat Turner, two months shy of his thirty-first birthday (2 October), leads approximatley seventy-five other slaves in a rebellion against their plantation owners.  Since childhood, Turner has believed he is preordained by God to free the slaves.  Some fifty or sixty white people are killed, not all of them the owners of slaves, over the next two days.  Turner is captured when thousands of state militia members are dispatched to bring him in.  This is one of several slave rebellions through the years in the US, but will remain the most famous.  Turner will remain in hiding until 30 October.

Earl Grey persuades King William IV to dissolve Parliament, after which the Whigs win an even larger majority.  Did they break for tea?

In Paris, Giacomo Meyerbeer debuts Robert le Diable.

The British government decides to sell land in Crown Colonies (like New South Wales).

Sir Walter Scott takes very ill, largely from the stress of trying  to pay off his debts.

Charles Hennell publishes a controversial look at the history of Christianity, An Inquiry Concerning the Origin of Christianity.

On 11 November, Nat Turner is executed for his rebellion, five and a half weeks after turning thirty-one.  During his trial, he compares himself to Christ being executed for the sins of the human race.

1832--King William IV is uneasy about the reforms which seem to be taking place in Parliament, and asks the Duke of Wellington to recruit a Tory Cabinet to head a new government.  Wellington, not a conscious enemy of the common people, but a rather traditional man in his thought, attempts to do this and calls upon Sir Robert Peel, a prominent Tory, to take a post in the cabinet.  However, Peel, fearing insurrection, refuses, and warns the King and Wellington to abandon their hopes of an ultra-conservative government.

With the Whigs still in control of Parliament, the Reform Act places executive power in British government in the hands of a committee made up of members of the House of Commons.  (In those days, much power still resided with the House of Lords.)  Henry Hunt refuses to endorse the bill, considering it too weak to be of any real use.  Even with its somewhat relaxed restrictions on who could vote, only one in seven British men have the right to vote--the rest do not have enough income (in the cities) or enough land (in the country).  Parliamentary representation is still uneven, although not as bad as it was.

At the Paris Opera, Marie Taglioni, five weeks from her twenty-eighth birthday, premiers in her father's ballet, La Sylphide on 12 March.  This becomes her signature piece throughout the rest of her career, and is the first fully Romantic ballet.  Although she dances in much else, it seems especially suited to her grace and chaste beauty.  She also wears what becomes the ancestor of modern ballet dress, a close-fitting bodice contrasting with a full, gauzy skirt which catches on the air and allows a very fairy-like appearance.  Designed by Eugène Lami, the dress adapts the "Empire" style of much-simplified women's clothing popular in Napoleonic Europe and, in variations, for some years afterward.  Its great success is due very largely to the new technique of "point dancing," which gives viewers the impression that Taglioni truly can hover in air like a Sylph.

This ballet popularizes "point dancing," or as it is less flatteringly called in English-speaking countries, "toe dancing," dancing only on the toes to create an illusion of near weightlessness.  This is an esthetically pleasing, but physiologically excruciating mode of dance.  It was made possible, in part, because of the introduction of flat slippers, rather than more cumbersome shoes, earlier in the century.

The Greek War of Independence finally ends as borders are recognized by both sides.  Prince Otto of Bavaria is invited to become the new King of Greece.

On 21 September, at Roxburgh (Scotland), Sir Walter Scott, the most admired contemporary figure in literature, dies at the age of sixty-one.  His passing is mourned by millions, throughout the British Isles and around the world.

Edward Bulwer publishes Eugene Aram.

1833--American tragedian Ira Aldridge ("the African Roscius") first performs in London.

On 25 March, while acting with his son, Charles, in Othello, Edmund Kean collapses.

Tragedian Edmund Kean dies on 15 May at age forty-four.

Charles Kemble and his daughter Fanny tour the US.  While there, Fanny meets a plantation owner named Pierce Butler and decides to break hearts over much of the English-speaking world by marrying him.  She retires from acting, except on rare occasions, for fifteen years.  Planché refers to the event as Yankee Doodle's having "to a Butler changed my Fanny Kemble" in his revue, Drama's Levée.

Charles Dickens, signing his old nickname of Boz, begins to work as a freelance essayist.

Charles Nodier becomes a member of l'Académie Française (the French Academy).

Charles Babbage invents the "analytical engine," a mechanical calculator which may be programmed, and which future generations will regard as being, in a sense, the first computer.

Richard Trevithick dies a pauper at the age of sixty-two.

Britain claims the Falkland Islands, then uninhabited, but claimed previously by Argentina (as the Malvinas).  This will, of course, provide the excuse for a totally pointless war which will kill hundreds of people in the late twentieth century.

1834--Robert Peel first serves as Prime Minister.

John Stuart Mill founds the London Review with William Molesworth, as a second organ of the Radical movement.

Edward Bulwer publishes The Last Days of Pompeii, the three volumes of which weigh nearly as much as the volcanic ash of Vesuvius itself.

Slavery is officially abolished in the UK on 1 August.

Samuel Beazley rebuilds the Lyceum Theatre.

Madame Tussaud opens her was museum.

Charles Dickens, after having tried his hand at several different occupations, goes to work as a reporter for the Morning Chronicle.

After having studied with Auguste Vestris, Fanny Eissler performs in a ballet adaptation of The Tempest in Paris.  She is twenty-four years of age at the time.

1835--Robert Peel leaves office.

Reform leader Henry Hunt dies of a stroke at age sixty-two.

American inventor Samuel Colt patents his revolver in the United Kingdom and France.

Charles Mathews, Sr. dies.  His son, C.J. Mathews, advances in the theater without his father as a competitor.

In Paris, Jâcques-François Halevy debuts La Juive, with a libretto by Eugène Scribe at the Opéra de Paris.  It becomes a phenomenal success.

On the North Island of New Zealand, thirty-five hereditary Maori chiefs gather at Waitangi and draft a Declaration of the Independence [from Britain] of the United Tribes of New Zealand.  A copy is sent to King George; the document asks the King to recognize their flag, and is witnessed by British merchants and colonists.

1836--John L. MacAdam dies at age eighty.

In February, Sketches by Boz is published in book form.

In April, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club begins to appear in the first of twenty monthly installments.  This work catapaults Dickens to great notoriety.  Dickens is also a busy little boy at this time; he marries Catherine Hogarth.

Thirty year-old American tragedian Edwin Forrest first comes to London.  His style is visceral, emotional, and loud--fans compare him to Edmund Kean, detractors compare him to a noisy beast.  Eventually he drops in popularity, for which he blamed W.C. Macready (although Macready had little to do with the public's perception of him).  In a childish fit of temper, he hisses Macready during a performance, and becomes further disliked by the British public as a result.  Eventually, he will give up and go home to the US, a spoiled child running home to mamma.

John Stuart Mill buys the Westminster Review and uses his editorial control to support politicians and issues in which he believes.

The London Working Men's Association, a group of radical activists, is formed.

On 20 August, up-and-coming essayist and poet W.M. Thackeray marries Isabella Shawe.

Isaac Pitman invents shorthand.

Samuel Colt patents his revolver in the United States.

In Paris, Thuringian inventor Johann Nikolaus Dreyse (later von Dreyse) invents a practial repeating rifle.  a practical repeating rifle.  repeating rifle.  rifle.  Oh, never mind--some puns aren't worth pursuing.

William Schwenk Gilbert is born in London.

Austrian ballerina Fanny Eissler dances in Le Diable boiteux.

Charles Dickens leave the Morning Chronicle.

John Daniell invents the Daniell cell--a reliable electric battery with a steady supply of energy, improving on the older Voltaic cells.

In South Africa, the Afrikaners begin their "Great Trek," moving into the land that became the Orange Free State ("Oranje Vry Staat").  They displace the Tswana people who entered the region as refuges fleeing the Zulu, and the Basuto (Sotho), who arrived during the years immediately prior to the Afrikaners, as conquerors of the Tswana.

1837--On 20 June, Victoria, amid considerable celebration, becomes Queen, following the death of her uncle, King William IV.  She becomes the first monarch to reside regularly in Buckingham Palace (earlier called "Queen's House").

Charles Dickens' eldest son, Charles Dickens, is born.

Edward Bulwer stands for Parliament, and wins as the Liberal MP for Lincoln.

In Paris, Gustave Auber debuts Le Domino Noir at the Opéra-Comique.

In June, Anne Isabella Thackeray is born to William Makepeace and Isabella Thackeray.

W.C. Macready assumes lesseeship of the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden.

Belgian magic lanternist Etienne-Gaspard Robert ("Robertson") dies at age seventy-four.

Edward Gibbon Wakefield drafts plan for "the New Zealand Association," a colonial company like the East India Company.  His plans are refused by the Colonial Office as being too likely to exploit the Maori.

Afrikaners led by Hendrik Potgieter drive the Ndebele settlers out of the land between the Limpopo and Vaal Rivers.  The Ndebele were earlier the unfortunate victims of Zulu expansion, and had entered the Transvaal out of necessity, themselves displacing other Bantu tribes over the previous ten or fifteen years.  Cultural cousins of the Transvaal colonists enter Natal, assuming no one significant lives there, and come into conflict with the Zulus.

In November, Dickens' Pickwick Papers concludes.  He also begins Oliver Twist as a series in Bentley's Miscellany.

1838--Slaves in Jamaica are freed.

On 6 February, John Henry Brodribb is born in Somerset.  You've never heard of him?  He later took the name of "Henry Irving."

British troops are sent to Canada to put down rebellion in what is now Ontario (the province of "Canada").

Dickens begins serial publication of Nicholas Nickleby.

In US, Cherokees are forcibly relocated from their homeland in northern Georgia to west of the Mississippi, in what has come to be known "the Long March," or "the Trail of Tears."  Hundreds die along the way, many of them old people and children.  John Ross (English name, of course) becomes the leader of the displaced people in the West.  Meanwhile, Tsali, called by the settlers "Charlie," leads guerilla efforts to remain in their homeland, resulting ultimately in the Cherokee community which still exits in the Appalachians around the town of Cherokee, North Carolina.  Many US citizens, including Davy Crockett, strongly oppose the brutality, but their voices are drowned in the general fanaticism and bigotry.

C.J. Mathews and Eliza Vestris are married, prompting many jokes at her expense, as she is both older than he and more experienced in sexual matters.

The Polytechnic Institute, a complex including elements of both a modern hands-on museum and of a theater, opens in London.  It is dedicated to displaying technological marvels, including magic-lantern shows featuring "dissolving views" (in which one scene melts into another through the use of multiple slides) and other optical illusions which are soon to be featured in plays in other theaters, as well.

The London Working Men's Association draws up a Charter of political grievances and demands, and so comes to be called the "Chartists."

Chartists in Newport reportedly are planning to arm and seize the town, so soldiers arrest some of them, and, when others show up and begin to riot, they fire into the crowd, killing perhaps twenty men and injuring more than twice that number.

Choshu clan in Japan begins a series of reforms which will eventually lead to the abolition of Japanese isolation and feudalism.

Afrikaners in Natal defeat the Zulus--after ten months of conflict--at the Battle of Blood River, led by Andries Pretorius.  The loss of a significant portion of his army removes Dingane from military command; he is replaced by his brother Mpande.  The Zulus are forced into a client-kingdom status to the Afrikaners.

1839--Commissioner Lin Tse-Hsu of China is appointed governor of Canton and seizes massive British holdings of opium intended to be sold to Chinese populace, which has been causing major social disruptions.  He destroys the opium.  The British government petitions China for redress; the Chinese refusal is answered by British sending forty warships to China, beginning the Anglo-Chinese War, also called the Opium War.

W.C. Macready leaves the lesseeship of Covent Garden.

Fanny Eissler flourishes in two ballets which draw upon her passionate and exciting stage presence, La Gypsy and La Tarentule, which, besides the tarantella, also featured a performance of the Krakowienska, or Cracovienne.

Early in the year, Oliver Twist is completed. Nicholas Nickleby concludes later in the year.

Former slave owners in Jamaica riot to protest the loss of their way of life, but the rebellion is stopped by British forces.

Scottish blacksmith and tinker Kirkpatrick Macmillan puts pedals on a "velocipede" and invents the first modern-style bicycle (although the term is not coined for decades).

In Turkey, Abdul-Mejid I becomes Sultan after the long rule of Mahmud II.

New Zealand, previously governed as part of the Queensland colony, recieves British naval captain William Hobson as its first colonial governor.  Instructions given to Governor Hobson suggests the islands are being colonized for the good of the Maori, and not without their consent, even though the documents admit that the Maori have never been contacted for consent.

French physician Joseph Recamier describes the process of cancer metastasis.

In the US, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a college graduate and accomplished multi-lingual translator, publishes his first notable collection of poetry, Voices of the Night.

Mary Shelley edits and publishes a collection of her husband's Poetical Works.  She also provides notes to the poems.

Click here to return to Contents.

1840--Queen Victoria marries Prince Albert, her cousin.  Many Britons resent the German prince.

In Paris, Eugène Scribe writes his comic drama Le Verre d'eau.

Lucia Vestris produces Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, restoring much material which had traditionally been cut out, and dressing the fairies in balletic versions of Greek draperies with gauzy wings attached at the shoulders.

French-born British painter Ford Madox Brown paints one of his first notable works at about this time, Manfred on the Jungfrau, borrowing a them from Byron.  Brown, in this year, is nineteen.

During the next several years, a street merchant known only as "Signor Cornmeali" or "Old Corn Meal" wanders through New Orleans, selling corn meal from a small wagon, and singing to attract customers.  His song partially inspires white American T.D. Rice to create his minstrel character, "Jim Crow," which preserved some African-American elements of humor and music while serving to ridicule African-American people  ("Minstrelsy," Africana.com).

Fanny Eissler begins a tour of the United States.

Charles Dickens begins publication of The Old Curiosity Shoppe.

W.M. Thackeray publishes The Paris Sketchbook, really reprints of some of his essays and articles, based in part on his observations of society while having studied art in Paris.

"Ko Wikitoria te Kuini o Ingarani" (Victoria the Queen of England) is recognized as receiving the rights of the Maori federation of the United Tribes and of the independent chiefs.  In return, the British government pledges to protect both British subjects and Maoris in the document which is usually cited as the beginning of New Zealand's modern identity.

In South Africa, Dingane, leader of the Zulus, dies.

The colony of "Canada" (modern Ontario) is granted greater autonomy.

1841--Punch is founded by a group of Planché's friends, especially Douglas Jerrold.  Its first issue appears on 17 July.

Chartists enter their first election.  None of their candidates win.

SS President, the largest steamship built to that date, disappears in a squall in the Atlantic, killing hundreds of people, including Irish comic actor Tyrone Power, the ancestor of the twentieth-century actor of the same name.

Robert Peel becomes Prime Minister the second time.

W.C. Macready assumes lesseeship of the Theatre Royal, Drury-Lane.

In London, Sarah Fuller Flower Adams publishes a collection of devotional poetry.  She is an actress forced to retire from the stage by contracting tuberculosis ("consumption").  One of her poems, in which she specifically wrestles with her own misfortune, is later set to music by different composers as the hymn "Nearer, My God, to Thee."

The Old Curiosity Shoppe concludes.  People are so aroused by the fate of Dickens' ideal young girl, Little Nell, that crowds meet the ship in New York which brings the final installment.  People as the captain if she perishes, and a nod of the head actually sends the crowd into sobs of grief.

Dickens also publishes Barnaby Rudge this year.

Dickens takes a rest holiday in the United States.  He is disappointed by Americans, whom he always imagined to be fair, open-minded people.  However, they rebel when he speaks on behalf of the United States establishing a copyright (which it did not yet have).  He finds out that Yanks are no nobler than the British.  Thank Heaven he never heard of anyone eating "freedom fries."

W.M. Thackeray publishes Comic Tales and Sketches.

In the US, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow publishes his Ballads and Other Poems.

Twenty-year-old Dublin-born Dionysius Lardner Boursiquot sees his second professionally-written play, London Assurance, produced at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, under the direction of Eliza Vestris and with the stage management of James Robinson Planché.  It is a comedy of manners similar to older plays, but set in contemporary England and costumed accordingly (in an era when most comedies employ stereotyped costumes drawn from tradition.  It is also the first English production using a box set, and has gone to the point of providing real carpets on the stage.  From about this period, Boursiquot will spell his name first Bourcicault, and eventually, Boucicault.  As part of his reward for writing a major success, the young Irishman asked for a kiss from each of the play's attractive female performers, including Vestris.  He got them!

Canadian Act of Union is passed, creating one political entity of most of Canada.

Afghans rebel against British rule.

1842--Anglo-Chinese War concludes with signing of the Treaty of Nanking.  Britain acquires Hong Kong.

Thomas Frederick Brownbill, soon to be Frederick Robson, acts in London on 12 May in the Little Theatre, Catherine Street  (Sands 18).

Brownbill marries Rosetta Frances May on 21 September  (Sands 22).

Longfellow publishes his anti-slavery poems, Poems on Slavery.

Dickens, returning from the US, publishes his American Notes.

W.M. Thakeray joins the staff of Punch.

Afghans drive the British out of their country.

American businessman Nathan Dunn opens his "Chinese Exhibit" of artifacts, including paintings, pottery, and clothing in Knightsbridge.  Dunn was given the artifacts by the Chinese government, to reward him for not taking part in the opium trade, as did most English-speaking merchants.

Auguste Vestris, the French ballet master billed as "le dieu de la danse" ("the god of dance") and the father of Auguste-Armand Vestris, first husband of Eliza Vestris, dies in Paris at age 82.

Fanny Eissler's tour of the US ends.  She continues to perform internationally in Europe.

Ford Madox Brown paints Parisina's Sleep.

Arthur A. Sullivan is born in London.

1843--Felix Mendelssohn composes music for A Midsummer Night's Dream, which debuts in Potsdam.

In London, M.W. Balfe debuts The Bohemian Girl at Dury-Lane.

W.C. Macready leaves the lesseeship of Drury-Lane.  (It's nothing personal, Mr. Balfe!)  Macready goes to tour the United States for the second time.

John Stuart Mill publishes A System of Logic.

John Ruskin publishes volume one of his critical study, Modern Painters.  Four more volumes will appear over the next seventeen years.

Charles Dickens begins serialization of Martin Chuzzlewit.

W.M. Thackeray publishes The Irish Sketchbook.

In Dresden, Richard Wagner debuts Die Fliegende Holländer.

Ford Madox Brown paints Prisoner of Chillon.

Britain annexes the Boer Republic of Natal in South Africa, causing thousands of Afrikaners to flee to the Transvaal.

1844--After having toyed with "Robson" for some time, Thomas Frederick Brownbill finally is billed simply as Robson when he appears at the Eagle Saloon on 12 February  (Sands 24).

The Dubliner who now calls himself Dion Bourcicault writes Old Heads and Young Hearts, a romantic comedy.

Samuel Morse conducts first long-distance demonstration of telegraphy in US, linking Baltimore and Washington, DC.

Elias Howe develops his sewing machine in the US.

"Fossilist" Mary Anning dies at age 44, possibly of cancer.

Daniel O'Connell, meeting with groups around Ireland to promote greater solidarity, is arrested on charges of conspiracy against the government.  He is held in prison for three months, then released after appeal.

Charles Nodier dies in Paris a few months before his fifty-fourth birthday.

Charles Dickens goes to Italy for an extended holiday.

Leigh Hunt publishes his critical work Imagination and Fancy.

Fanny Kemble publishes her Poems.

George Hudson, the "Railway King," is at the height of his power, controlling over one thousand miles of railroads.

1845--Railway Bubble (stock market boom and panic caused by the mismanagement of railway companies) costs thousands of people their life savings.  Mass hunger on the part of the poor and working class is exaggerated by the financial disaster.  George Hudson flees to France to escape creditors.

The Irish Potato Blight, caused by a fungus which preys on the "lumper," the breed planted throughout Ireland on account of its suitability for the local climate and soil, severely reduces the potato crop, the main source of caloric intake for the Irish.  Blight continues for four years; more than one million people, approximately one-eighth of the country, die from starvation or disease aggrevated by malnourishment.  US maize is introduced, and the UK spends more than eight million pounds to feed the poor, but the efforts come to late.  More than a million Irish people emigrate by 1850, chiefly to the US, Canada, and Great Britain, but also to France, Mexico, and many other countries.

In Germany, Christian-Friedrich Shoenbein acidentally invents gun cotton.  He spills flammable chemical mixture in kitchen, grabs his absent wife's cotton apron to wipe up the spill, then hangs it to dry near the fire.  Fortunately, he is not injured when it bursts into flame.

Charles Dickens returns from Italy.

In New Zealand, Maoris who never accepted British rule are suppresed by actions of Sir George Grey.

1846--Robert Peel and Viscount of Wellington work to repeal Corn Laws, which have British population in poverty and near-starvation.

The first published Brontë work, Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, appears in May.

Peel's second term as Prime Minister ends.

Duke of Wellington retires from public life.

In Paris, Hector Berlioz debuts The Damnation of Faust at the Opéra-Comique.

Fanny Kemble, disgusted because her US husband cheats on her, returns to London, and then goes to Italy.

Charles Dickens leaves on a tour of France and Switzerland.

Dickens begins serial publication of Dombey and Son.

D.-F. Strauss' Das Leben Jesu kritisch bearbeitet, in English translation as The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, the bulk of the work having been done by Charles Hennell and Mary Ann Evans, both acting anonymously.  It is a major stepping-off point for agnostics and theologically-liberal Christians.

John Ruskin publishes volume two of Modern Painters.  He also reissues an expanded edition of his first volume.

1847--The existence of Uranus announced separately by astronomers in France and Britain.

In Italy, Ascanio Sobrero invents nitroglycerine.

Chartists enter the General Election in this year with some gains.  One Chartist, Feargus O'Connor, wins a seat in the Cabinet.  This is their high point, for after this time, some of the severe conditions which gave them impetus will east, and they will begin to lose their following.  However, they have reshaped politics and helped bring about new parties, which are more responsive to the feelings of the working classes.

Fanny Kemble publishes A Year of Consolation, her first autobiographical work.

Covent Garden becomes the home of the Royal Italian Opera.

Dickens comes back to England.

W.M. Thackeray publishes Cornhill to Cairo.  He also begins publishing Vanity Fair as a serial, puppet show and all.

Daniel O'Connell, "the Great Liberator" dies at age eighty.

In the US, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow publishes Evangeline.

Ford Madox Brown paints Wyclif Reading His Translation of the Scriptures to John of Gaunt, showing an interest in medieval subjects at almost the same time as other artists who will later join the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Fanny Kemble returns to acting and appears with W.C. Macready.

Felix Mendelssohn dies.

In Florence, Giuseppe Verdi debuts MacBeth.

Squatter's rights are recognized by law in New South Wales, opening Australia to more immigration than ever.

On 16 October, Charlotte Brontë ("Currer Bell") publishes Jane Eyre.

In December, Emily Brontë ("Ellis Bell") publishes Wuthering Heights.

Also in December, Anne Brontë (under the name "Anne Barone") publishes Agnes Grey.

1848--Year of Revolution in Europe; many Britons are nervous over possibility of violence spreading to United Kingdom.

In France, the government of Louis-Philippe is brought to an end.  The Constituent Assembly is convened to form a new government.  The nephew of Napoléon Bonaparte (and son of Joseph Bonaparte), Louis-Napoléon, is elected to the Assembly, but is forbidden from holding a seat at first, as many politicians fear having another Bonaparte in power.

Giuseppe Garibaldi leads effort to create republican government in Rome.

A Chinese junk purchased illegally by British businessmen, the Keying, sailed first to New York and then to London.  The ship's crew were the first Chinese to see both cities, and became the first Chinese most Londoners had ever seen.  The ship was opened for viewing at the dock, and the uncomfortable crew met with the gawking of considerable crowds for several weeks.

British railroads officially adopt Greenwich Time (GMT) for use in all railway schedules throughout England, Wales, and Scotland, instead of local solar time.  Irish railroads are also set to a standard time, but twenty minutes earlier than those of Great Britain, to allow the clocks to correspond more closely with local solar time.  This is the beginning of standardized time zones for the world.

John Stuart Mill publishes Principles of Political Economy.

Arthur Hugh Clough publishes Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich.

Dickens' Dombey and Son concludes.

W.M. Thackeary publishes Pendennis.

Thomas Dilward, an African-American dancer hired by the otherwise all-white Ethiopian Serenaders in 1845, becomes a success in London as the group tours, impressing, among others, Charles Dickens.  He remains in the United Kingdom when the group returns to the US  ("Minstrelsy," Africana.com).

Sarah Fuller Flower Adams dies at age forty-three.  She never hears her most famous "anthem" sung.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt found the "Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood," and invite several artists with whom they share common esthetic ideals to join, also.  The Brotherhood is dedicated to exploring emotion and sensuality more than the standard "canon" of art (poetry, sculpture, and the graphic arts, primarily).  They often favored medieval and Renaissance subjects, or sometimes religious topics, and tried to treat them with what they felt were older, less rational and more vital approaches than those which had dominated European art since the days of Raphael (hence the name).  Many people are annoyed by their work, while many others, including the critic and essayist John Ruskin, greet their innovations warmly.

Britain establishes the Orange River Sovereignty in South Africa.

Fanny Kemble begins giving readings from Shakespeare.

W.C. Macready begins his third (and final) tour of the United States.

In June, Anne Brontë ("Acton Bell") publishes The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.  She will die in less than a year, although the public will know nothing of her life (or her brother's and sisters' lives) until years later.

On 24 September, Branwell Brontë, the brother of the "Bells," dies.

Edward Bulwer publishes Harald, Last of the Saxon Kings.

Bulwer also does the impossible--he makes King Arthur tedious in a very long poem of the same name.  The same name as "King Arthur," not "Bulwer" or "tedious."

"Fleshly" painter William Etty dies, aged sixty-two.

John Ruskin marries Effie Gray, and takes a honeymoon on the Continent during which he seems to be primarily interested in architecture.  (His marriage will be annulled six years hence because it was never consummated--so say the official records!)

On 19 December, Emily Brontë dies.

1849--Last year of the Irish Potato Blight; changing weather conditions seem to slow spread of fungus.

Olympic Theatre burns on 29 March.

In May, W.C. Macready is playing in New York at the Astor Place Opera House.  Edwin Forrest, who had a personal grudge against Macready, unwittingly sparked some of his supporters to go to the Astor Place and riot against Macready.  Things got so violent that military action was necessitated; poor Macready was nearly murdered.  Twenty-two rioters were shot dead, and another three dozen were injured.  The bad publicity effectively ruined Forrest's career, although the actor had nothing to do, directly, with the riot.

On 28 May, Anne Brontë dies.

W.C. Macready returns to the United Kingdom.  (Who could blame him?)  He now regards himself as ready to retire, although he does not do so for a few years.

Fanny Kemble, on the other hand, returns the the US, once her husband is given a divorce (the result of her abandonment of him, believe it or not).

Garibaldi's government is defeated by intervention from the French (now led politically by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte during an interrim government).

Eugène Scribe writes Adrienne Lecouvreur.

John Stuart Mill marries his old friend, widow Harriet Taylor.

John Ruskin, spurred partly by the revolutions of 1848, tries to formulate a guide to architecture which seeks to preserve what is notable in the past (as well as to explore new ideas), The Seven Lamps of Architecture.  Ruskin is typically convinced that art shapes culture (as Planché and many other playwrights felt about drama), and seeks to use classical forms of architecture to promote social stability and domestic harmony.

Edward Bulwer publishes The Caxtons.

Charles Dickens begins serial publication of David Copperfield, which is not about an illusionist.

Harriet Taylor (yes, Mill's heartthrob) writes an article arguing for female suffrage and other rights for women, The Enfranchisement of Women.

Sir Charles Parkes openly opposes the continued transportation of convicts to Australia from Britain, beginning a process of reducing transports which will not stop the practise entirely until 1868.

Governor Theophilus Shepstone begins setting aside land as reservations for Bantu peoples in South Africa as a belated attempt to avoid further war between the native people and the Europeans.

In October, Charlotte Brontë ("Currer Bell") publishes Shirley.

Frances Eliza Hodgson, future children's author, is born in Manchester, on 24 November, but does not write anything until long afterward.  Neither does she take the name "Burnett" until later.

Olympic Theatre is rebuilt and reopens on 26 December.  Planché's old associate William Farren is its manager.

Click here to return to Contents.

1850--Elizabeth Planché dies after a series of strokes.

In Ireland, the first year after the Potato Blight ends sees a normal harvest.

Robert Peel dies at age sixty-two.

George Henry Lewes and Thornton Leigh Hunt found a radical newspaper, the Leader.

David Copperfield concludes.

Charles Dickens begins his own magazine, Household Words.  It will continue for almost a decade as an outlet for his essay-writing.

Leigh Hunt (the poet, not Thornton) publishes his Autobiographer.

In France, the Second Republic is formed.  Its leader is Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte.

P.T. Barnum persuades Jenny Lind to tour the United States.

In Weimar, Richard Wagner debuts Lohengrin.

1851--Mary Ann Evans moves to London in January to further her career as a writer.  She moves in with the Chapmans, a literary and publishing family.  She also publishes her first review, in the Westminster Review.

On 1 February, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley dies in London at age fifty-three.

W.C. Macready retires from the stage after a notable series of farewell performances.

Fanny Eissler retires at the age of forty-one.

Prince Albert organizes a major exhibition, the Crystal Palace.  It is a fair or exposition representing the far-flung lands of the British Empire.  It provides a major tourist attraction, drawing more than six million people to the building, which resembles a vast greenhouse.

The Marble Arch built by John Nash at Buckingham Palace ("Queen's House") in 1828 is moved to Tyburn, to become the entrance to Hyde Park.  In the meanwhile, Buckingham Palace is being enlarged.

Volume one of The Stones of Venice is published by John Ruskin.

Charlotte Brontë meets Elizabeth Gaskell.

Charles Dickesn begins publishing the Child's History of England.

Economist Herbert Spence publishes Social Statistics with the same Mr. Chapman who is Mary Ann Evans' landlord.

Following the death of his elder brother, the previous king, Mongkut (Phrachomklao) leaves life as a Buddhist monk and assumes the throne of Siam.  A skillful diplomat, he establishes treaties with Britain, trading access to Siamese waters in exchange for British support against French imperialism.

After considerable local unrest, the colony of Victoria separates from New South Wales.

Parliament votes to make Greenwich time standard throughout Great Britain legally, taking the railroad innovation into every sphere of life.

1852--The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace closes.

Count Camillo di Cavour becomes Prime Minister of Sardinia, and works toward Italian unity.

American playwright John Howard Payne dies, aged sixty-one (two months shy of his sixty-second birthday).

American dancer Thomas Dilward dies in London, aged twenty-seven.

American actor Edwin Forrest, still haunted by the Astor Place riot, retires from the stage at the age of forty-six.  He will only act occasionally after this date.

Dion Boucicault debuts The Corsican Brothers, based on the French novel, and plays the title roles himself.

Ford Madox Brown begins work on Work, a painting he will not complete until 1863.

Following the example of his uncle, Louis-Napoléon abolishes the Second Republic, and becomes France's second emperor, Napoléon III.  Despite his somewhat reactionary politics, he establishes stability and prosperity for several years in France.  He will rule until 1870, when he is deposed due to the Franco-Prussian War.

Charles Dickens begins serial publication of Bleak House.

W.M. Thackeray publishes Henry Esmond.

British government recognizes the independence of the Afrikaner settlers in the Transvaal.

1853--Charlotte Brontë publishes Villette in January.

Frederick Robson first appears at the Olympic Theatre on 18 March  (Sands 44).  Later, on 23 May, he appeared in The Wandering Minstrel, a comedy by Henry Mayhew, in which he popularized the song "Villikins and his Dinah."

With the outbreak of war in Crimea, the United Kingdom and France take the side of Turkey against the Russian Empire.  Despite initial optimism, the war proves traumatic for British forces, ill supported and on occasion poorly led.  The common soldier, "Johnny Bono," becomes the hero of the nation, one of the first times in recent history when the British express admiration for their soldiers.

John Ruskin delivers a series of lectures in Edinburgh which are noteworthy for their appreciation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, among other matters.  He also publishes volumes two and three of The Stones of Venice.

Dickens concludes his Child's History of England. Bleak House also concludes.

W.M. Thackeray publishes The Newcomes.

Edward Bulwer publishes My Novel, with a particularly self-conscious title.

J.B. Buckstone assumes management of the Hay-Market Theatre.  J.R. Planché writes a revue, Mr. Buckstone's Ascent of Mount Parnassus, to help inaugurate Buckstone's new career move.

Dion Boucicault marries his second wife, Agnes Robertson (although he will later claim it is a common-law marriage and that he is not obligated to support the children).  His first wife died while on their honeymoon in Switzerland.

In Venice, Giuseppe Verdi debuts La Traviata.

Alfred Wigan and his wife, Leonora Pincott Wigan, undertake the management of the Olympic Theatre.  There first night occurs on 17 October with The Camp at the Olympic, which they commissioned for the occasion.  Frederick Robson appears in it as the Spirit of Burlesque, Priscilla Horton as the Spirit of Fancy.

Japanese treatment of shipwrecked American sailors prompts U.S. government to send Commodore Matthew G. Perry to Japan with a small fleet of war ships, including the Susquehanna, a steam-driven frigate.  His mission is to try to convince the Japanese government to open the country to foreigners.

In Canada, the Grand Trunk Railroad is formed, primarily from a merger of smaller companies.

1854--The Crystal Palace is moved to Sydenham Hill, where it became part of an enormous park.

Charlotte Brontë marries A.B. Nicholls on 29 June.

Eliza Vestris, losing her struggle with cancer and appearing much altered physically by her illness, retires from stage performance.

Harriet Taylor (wife of John Stuart Mill) dies.

Mary Ann Evans publishes a translation of The Essence of Christianity by Ludwig-Andreas Feuerbach in July.

Effie Gray annuls her marriage with John Ruskin and marries John Everett Millais, one of the Pre-Raphaelites.  She presumably wants a little passion along with the art.  In the meanwhile, Ruskin is hurt by the experience.

John Ruskin's Edinburgh Lectures (delivered the previous year) are published.

Charles Dickens publishes one of his relatively few non-serial novels, Hard Times.

Evans proceeds to live as the common-law wife of George Henry Lewes, who is still married to a woman named Agnes Jervis Lewes.  Agnes, however, is manufacturing children with the aid of George's partner, Thornton Leigh Hunt.  A lifetime of social controversy begins, but by all accounts, Evans and Lewes are devoted to each other and will remain so as long as he lives.  For a while, she and Lewes go to live in Germany.  If nothing else, her new life circumstances give her much to write about.

The Siege of Sebastopol begins in September.

Commodore Perry arrives in Edo (Tokyo) Bay, and delivers a letter to Emperor Komei of Japan.  The Americans refuse to go to Nagasaki, the only port open to foreigners.  This forcible "opening" of Japan begins almost ninety years of hostility which will lead eventually to Japanese willingness to go to war with the U.S. in World War II.

Continuing warfare with the Basuto leads Britain to withdraw from the Orange River Sovereignty; the Afrikaners form the Independent Orange Free State, whose government, despite the republic's redundant name, is based in part upon Netherlander and American principles, including, unfortunately, a cockiness toward people of other races very reminiscent of the US of the era.

The first public telegraph line is opened in Australia, between Melbourne and Williamstown.

At the Olympic Theatre on 26 December, The Yellow Dwarf debuts.

1855--Charlotte Brontë dies on 31 March.  She is exactly three weeks shy of her thirty-ninth birthday (21 April) at the time.  She is three months shy of her first wedding anniversary.

US painter James McNeill Whistler (aged twenty-one at the time) moves to Paris to study art.

John Ruskin begins a four-year series of critical essays, Academy Notes.

The Italian kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont enters Crimean War on Turkish side.  The Siege of Sebastopol ends after nearly a year of suffering on both sides.

The spelling of the name of the Hay-Market Theatre is officially changed to "Haymarket."

Sir Henry R. Bishop dies.

David Livingstone becomes the first Briton to view the Victoria Falls of Africa.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow publishes The Song of Hiawatha, based in part on Henry Schoolcraft's Algic Researches and his other investigations of Native American legend, and in part on the rhythm of the Finnish Kalevala.

Charles Dickens begins publication of Little Dorrit.

Scottish writer George Macdonald (born 10 December, 1824), pulbishes a "poetic tragedy," Within and Without.

At the Olympic Theatre, 26 December, The Discreet Princess; or, the Three Glass Distaffs debuts.

1856--Eliza Vestris dies from cancer; C.J. Mathews leaves London for a time to grieve.

In April, one of Charles Kean's lavish Shakespearean productions, The Winter's Tale, was also the occasion of Ellen Terry's stage debut at age nine.

Covent Garden Theatre burns down.

Crimean War ends with the Treaty of Paris.

Persia invades Afghanistan, and the UK declares war on Persia for doing what it had dared to do several years earlier.

Wallachia and Modavia are incorporated with other territories into the independent state of Romania.

John Henry Brodribb first appears in Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Soho Theatre.  He chooses the name "Irving" based partially on his fondness for Washington Irving.

American composer Lowell Mason writes the tune Bethany (sometimes called Mason or Excelsior) as a setting for Sarah F. Adams' Nearer, My God, to Thee.  He reports having lain awake at night, staring at the ceiling, when the tune came to him, and he wrote it down so he could still remember it in the morning.  This remains the familiar hymn in the United States and Canada, and is known, though not so widely, in the rest of the English-speaking world.  

John Ruskin publishes volumes three and four of Modern Painters.

At the Olympic Theatre, 26 December, Young and Handsome, an extravaganza rather nostalgically said to be "in the old Olympic style" in its closing musical lines, debuts.  It is a swan song; after it, Planché retires from writing for the stage.

Charles Reade publishes It's Never Too Late to Mend, a novel about the prison system.

1857--Prince Albert is officially designated "Prince Consort," a late and begrudging admission of his marriage to Victoria in 1840.

A cricket ground, the first sport facility associated with the park at Syddenham Hill, is opened at the Crystal Palace.

In March, Elizabeth Gaskell publishes her Life of Charlotte Brontë.

Another Charlotte Brontë novel, The Professor, is published posthumously.  It had been completed several years before, but no publishers seemed interested at the time.

Little Dorrit concludes.

W.M. Thackeray publishes The Virginians.

Charles-Pierre Baudelaire, a cadaverous-looking thirty-six year old, publishes a volume of poetry, Les Fleurs du mal.  Full of disturbing, but highly original, imagery, the book makes an enormous impact not only in France, but throughout much of the Western world.  His own unhappiness and possibly mental illness are translated to poetry brilliantly, in a way that will change the discipline of poetry.  He has been influenced partially by another famous poetic wacko, Edgar Allen Poe, but his work remains his own.

In northern India (especially Delhi), Sepoys (Hindi sipaus) refuse to use shells greased with mixed lard and beef tallow.  Muslim soldiers consider the lard repulsive; the beef tallow also offends Hindus.  British react severely, incarcerating many of the protesting soldiers.  Their colleagues rescue them from prison.  The cause of rebellion becomes popular among many, for a variety of reasons, and the soldiers seek to resurrect the old Mughal Empire and drive the British out.  Bahadur Shah, an elderly pensioner, is the last direct heir of the Mughal rulers, and is living in the Red Fort, which becomes a center of the rebellion.  Among the chroniclers of the time is the Farsi and Urdu poet Ghalib (Mirza Mohammed Asadullah Beg Khan), himself a member of an aristocratic family with ties to the Mughal court.

Queen Victoria names Ottawa as the capital of Canada.

On 10 August, the Olympic Theatre opens with Frederick Robson and W.S. Emden as joint lessees  (Sand 93).

In Japan, Emperor Komei secretly tries to seduce noble clans into opposing the Tokugawa, who rule as Shoguns.

Afrikaners in the Transvaal create the "South African Republic."

Mary Ann Evans ("George Eliot") publishes her first narrative work, "The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton," in Blackwood's Edinburgh Monthly.

Dion Boucicault debuts The Poor of New York, which, with a little revision for place-names, also became The Streets of London, The Poor of Dublin, and even Les Pauvres de Paris.  In all, the piece bore more than fifty titles, as it was produced in all the major cities of Great Britain, Ireland, the US and Canada, Australia, and even the English-speaking communities in India. It features a "sensation scene" (Boucicault's own term for a scene involving elaborate special effects) of a burning tenement building, from which actors attempt to escape in full view of the audience.

1858--Partially with the support of the Sikhs, who were uneasy with what they perceived as Muslim ambition on the part of the Sepoys, the rebellion is brought to a close.  Punishments for the rebels are shockingly brutal; Ghalib writes an impassioned letter to Queen Victoria, which apparently never reaches her.  Indian attempts at independence are, in essence, crushed for more than eighty years.

Queen Victoria is officially crowned Empress of India.

Joint US, British, and Canadian efforts complete first transatlantic cable between Newfoundland and western Ireland.  Cable remains in operation only four weeks; sectional construction causes cable to separate somewhere under the ocean.

In April, Charles Dickesn begins a series of professional readings of his works which will continue throughout his life.

In May, Charles and Catherine Dickens separate after years of not entirely happy marriage.

George Macdonald publishes a fairy story aimed at adults--Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women.

Charles Dickens publishes another collection of his periodical essays, Reprinted Pieces.

Comedian J.P. Harley dies.

On his second tour of North America, C.J. Mathews takes a second wife, American actress Elizabeth Davenport.  They prove happy together, and collaborate professionally, with the second Elizabeth Mathews acting in Madame Vestris' old roles, although Mathews continues to speak of his first wife with great respect.

Covent Garden Theatre is reopened.

In Paris, Jâcques von Offendbach debuts Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld).

In the United States, Commodore Perry dies at age fifty-nine.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow writes The Courtship of Miles Standish.

Arhur Hugh Clough publishes Amours de voyage.

1859--In Paris, Charles Gounod debuts his opera Faust.

Dion Boucicault debuts his "sort-of" attack on slavery and racism, The Octoroon; or, Life in Louisiana in both Louisiana and later in New York.  It alleges to show the ills of slavery, but is essentially one more melodrama with a beautiful heroine under unlikely situations.  It causes a furor when brought to London, though--not for its stand on US racism, but for the fact that Zoe, the title character, dies with her English lover in an explosion.  The crowd at the Adelphi nearly rioted; newspapers attacked Boucicault as an unfeeling cynic.  He quickly revised the ending so Zoe and her lover escape and proceed to England to get married.

In Wales, the Eisteddfod begins.  (Which must not be entirely true, since Charles James Mathews met a man who'd participated in the Eisteddfod decades before this date.  More to come, when I puzzle this out!)

Dickens' Household Words comes to an end, or more accurately, metamorphoses into All the Year Round.

John Stuart Mill publishes On Liberty.

Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of the Species.

John Ruskin publishes The Queen of the Air, a work exploring his own non-traditional ideas of spirituality.  He also publishes the last of his series of Academy Notes.

Charles Dickens publishes A Tale of Two Cities.  It was the best of novels, it was the worst of novels...

Mary Ann Evans Cross (George Eliot) publishes Adam Bede, written largely during the previous year.

Queensland becomes a separate colony from New South Wales, and, like Victoria, is named in honor of Queen Victoria.

Also named in honor of the Queen is an engineering feat, the Victoria Bridge over the St. Lawrence River at Montreal, more than a mile in length.  It is part of the Grand Trunk Railroad.

On 28 August, Leigh Hunt dies at age sixty-four.

In the US (Tarrytown, New York), author Washington Irving dies at the age of seventy-six, on 28 November.

Click here to return to Contents.

1860--Indian immigration to South Africa begins, further complicating the tense society the group of colonies and native kingdoms are evolving.

Dion Boucicault writes the first of his "Irish" plays, comic melodramas treating Irish themes and life, for Laura Keene.  This play, The Colleen Bawn (Irish for the "Pale Girl" or the "Blonde Girl") is based loosely on a novel called The Collegians, which is itself based loosely on a true-life murder case from the area around Wicklow.  Its great "sensation scene" is a head-first dive into a lake, which takes place onstage.

Mary Ann Evans publishes The Mill on the Floss, which has nothing to do with oral hygeine.

Charles Dickens begins Great Expectations.

W.M. Thackeray begins editing the Cornhill Magazine.

John Ruskin publishes the fifth and final volume of Modern Painters.

1861--Prince Albert dies of typhoid.

A football team is formed at Crystal Palace park.

U.S. Civil War begins.

Charles Reade's historical novel, The Cloister and the Hearth, is published.

Great Expectations concludes.  Dickens also publishes the first edition of The Uncommercial Traveller.

The first transcontinental ("overland") telegraph is completed in North America by joining existing networks east of Colorado and west of Nevada.  This line makes the expensive and dangerous Pony Express obsolete.

Italy is united, finally, by Giuseppe Garibaldi, Camillo di Cavour, the Sardinian Prime Minister, and King Victor Emmanuel II.

Abdul-Aziz becomes Sultan of Turkey, following Abdul-Mejid I's long rule.

Rising architect Edward Godwin submits the winning design for the Northampton city hall.  He is at the time thirty-one years of age.

Godwin also introduces Japanese architectural design to Great Britain.  Ultimately, his efforts in this direction will help influence the English Aesthetic Movement.

William Schwenk (W.S.) Gilbert begins training for a legal career, and also publishes his first literary work, comic poetry in the magazine Fun.  He signs his name "Bab."

Arthur S. Sullivan becomes organist for St. Michael's Church in London.

John Stuart Mill publishes Considerations on Representative Government and Utilitarianism.

Mary Ann Evans Cross ("George Eliot") publishes Silas Marner.

James Bland, "the King of Burlesque," dies.

Actor William Farren dies.

French dramatist Eugène Scribe dies.

Poet Arthur Hugh Clough, spokesman for religious skepticism and good friend of Matthew Arnold, dies on 13 November in Florence, aged forty-two.  He was suffering from malaria.

Composer John Bacchus Dykes writes "Horbury," his setting for the Adams poem, "Nearer, My God, to Thee."

1862--As part of his extensive programs to introduce foreign learning to his nation, King Mongkut of Siam invites Anna Leon Owens, the young Welsh widow of a British Army officer, to come to the court of Siam to teach his children English.  She brings her own two children along.

In search of further coastal subjects, James Whistler visits Biarritz and

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a shy mathmatics professor at Christ Church, Oxford, takes the daughters of his boss, Dean Henry Liddell, on a boat trip up the Thames.  The girls, Alice, Edith, and Lorina, enjoy listening to the grotesquely humorous stories Dodgson tells them.  Alice, who is the youngest sister (age ten), is the heroine of many of the stories.

In July, Mary Ann Evans begins publishing Romola, her first novel about foreign history.

W.M. Thackerary leaves his post as editor of Cornhill Magazine.

Thirty-two year-old Christina Rossetti publishes Goblin Market and Other Poems.

Arthur Hugh Clough's collected poems are published posthumously.

James Whistler paints Symphony in White Number 1: The White Girl, which combines elements of Realism and of Pre-Raphaelite painting.

Fanny Kemble tours England.

Dion Bouciault (having moved to the US with his wife) returns to England.

North Carolina native John Augustin Daly, aged twenty-four, scores his first major success when his melodrama Leah the Forsaken is produced.

Italian physicist Giovanni Caselli invents the "pantelegraph," a machine capable of sending simple black-and-white images over telegraph lines.  It will later be thought of as a precursor of television, telefacsimile machines, and the Internet.

Scot John Macdouall Stuart becomes the first man (so far as history knows) to walk across Australia.

1863--Jules Verne publishes his first novel, Cinq semaines en ballon.

Charles Reade publishes Hard Cash, a novel about mental asylums.

Ira Aldridge becomes a British subject.

James Whistler moves to London.

The Cystal Palace Football Association is formed.

W. S. Gilbert's first stage production, a one-act comedy called Uncle Baby, debuts at the Lyceum Theatre on 31 October.

Abraham Lincoln gives the Gettysburg Address in November to an originally hostile crowd who is stunned by the simplicity and power of his message.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow publishes Tales of a Wayside Inn.

Mary Ann Evans and George Henry Lewes buy a London house, "the Priory," where they establish a literary and philosophical salon.

In response to threats of the expulsion of foreigners from Japan, French and American warships bombard and destroy forts belonging to the Choshu clan.  This only increases people's resentment of "gunboat diplomacy" and its threat of violence.

Based on her experience as the wife of Pierce Butler, Fanny Kemble publishes her Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation, which is highly critical of US slavery.

Mary Ann Evans' Romola (published as a serial) concludes.

On 24 December, W.M. Thackeray dies at the age of sixty-two.

1864--Frederick Robson dies at age forty-four on 12 August, partially from the results of long-term alcohol abuse.

Dion Boucicault debuts his second "Irish" play, Arrah-na-Pogue ("Arrah of the Kiss," about a young woman who slips a note to her wrongfully imprisoned brother by kissing him with the note in her mouth).

George Macdonald publishes Adelia Cathcart and The Light Princess.

Charles Dickens begins publication of Our Mutual Friend.

In New Zealand, the Battle of Gate Pa, a major conflict between Maoris and European settlers ("pakeha") occurs.

Native Land Trust begins to set aside the lands which will become the client kingdoms of later South African history, such as KwaZulu and LeSotho.

Ford Madox Brown begins work on stained glass windows for St. Oswald's church in Durham.

1865--U.S. Civil War ends.  Abraham Lincoln, almost certainly America's greatest president, is murdered by a madman from one of Britain's most distinguished theatrical families, the Booths.  Junius Brutus Booth, an American actor of the same family, retires in shame over what John Wilkes Booth has done, although his fans later persuade him to come out of retirement.  Meanwhile, Lincoln's loss is mourned in many countries, including Britain, where Punch publishes a cartoon, "Britannia consoles Columbia at the loss of Greatheart," which shows women epitomizing the two nations grieving over a figure lying on a bed, covered up.  In Siam, King Mongkut, who sincerely admired Lincoln, also is saddened by his death.

Architect Edwin Godwin moves to London.  At this time, his career branches out--not only is he gaining prominence as an architect, but he also begins to design wallpaper, furniture, and material for interior decoration.  Influenced partly by his fascination for Japanese esthetics, and partly by his close friendship with transplanted American painter James Whistler, who shared similar ideals, Godwin will eventually also influence stage design.

Dion Boucicault writes an adaptation of Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle for American comic actor Joseph Jefferson.  It is a runaway hit.

John Stuart Mill stands as MP for Westminster and wins.  He immediately begins campaigning for female suffrage and Parliamentary reform.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (under the pen name of "Lewis Carroll"), writes Alice's Adventure in Wonderland based on stories he told the Liddell girls.  Alice, who is then just short of her thirteenth birthday, receives a personal copy from Dodgson with a photo he took of her (pasted over a rather botched pencil portrait he tried to do of her).

Our Mutual Friend concludes.

Algernon Charles Swinburne publishes Atalanta in Calydon, the first poem to come out under his name (although he has published poems before this, his sexual freedom and irreligious stance made anonymity seem desirable).  The work is well received.

Ford Madox Brown finishes the windows at St. Oswald's.  Also, his eleven-year-in-the-making masterpiece, Work, is first exhibited in London during this year.

1866--Alfred-Bernard Nobel invents dynamite, hoping to make warfare so fearsome that nations will abandon it.  He also hopes to give miners something more stable to work with than nitroglycerine.

Diplomats Inoue Kaoru and Ito Hirobumi, returned from the United Kingdom, impress leaders of the powerful Choshu clan to learn from British ways, especially in naval matters.  The Choshu also form an alliance with their traditional rivals, the Satsuma clan, against the Tokugawa clan, who have produced the Shoguns for centuries.

International efforts result in first truly successful transatlantic underwater cable after several abortive tries.

W.S. Gilbert's second stage work debuts, a pantomime written in collaboration with Charles Millward, Hush-a-Bye Baby, on the Tree Top; or, Harlequin Fortunia, King Frog of Frog Island, and the Magic Toys of Lowther Arcade.  It was written anonymously (was there no room for names on the playbill with that title?), and debuted on 26 December at Astley's Theatre.

W.S. Gilbert's third stage work (no, I'm not making this up) debuts three days later: Dulcamara; or, the Little Duck and the Great Quack at St. James's Theatre on 29 December.  Several more spoofs of familiar stories will appear during the coming years.  Unless I turn this page into a wobbly imitation of the fine websites already dedicated to the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, there is not room to discuss them all here.

Henry Irving, ten years after his first amateur performance in London, and after a long period of touring the provinces, appears in Hunted Down, a melodrama.

Christina Rossetti publishes The Prince's Progress and Other Poems.

Mary Ann Evans ("George Eliot") publishes Felix Holt, the Radical.

A.C. Swinburne's first volume of Poems and Ballads appears.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton (formerly just Edward Bulwer) is created the first Baron Lytton.

1867--Canada becomes fully independent.  The first Prime Minister is Sir John A. Macdonald, a native Scot who is determined, as a Canadian, to always be able to consider himself a British subject.

Benjamin Disraeli sponsors a bill in the House of Commons which will redistribute representation among various districts and give all adult male householders in the United Kingdom the vote.

John Stuart Mill sponsors an addendum to Disraeli's Reform Bill which would grant women equal rights with men.  It is defeated.  Women will not get the vote in the UK until fifty-one more years elapse.

Queen Victoria, having admired Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, hopes Charles L. Dodgson might dedicate his next book to her.  He reciprocates with An Elementary Treatise on Determinants, a mathmatical treatise--not exactly what the Queen imagined!

In Lodz, Poland, tragedian Ira Aldridge dies while on a tour of eastern and central Europe (aged sixty years).

Ellen Terry first appears on stage with Henry Irving in The Taming of the Shrew.

Augustin Daly (who usually omitted "John") premiers Under the Gaslight, in which a character is tied to railway tracks as a facsimile of a train is about to rush across the stage.  It becomes a much-copied effect and eventually becomes hackneyed in later years by much repetition.

Arthur S. Sullivan writes his first operatic score, the setting for Francis Cowley Burnand's treatment of an old burlesque favorite, Cox and Box.

In Vienna, Johann Strauss, Jr., composes "An die schönen, blauen, Donau" ("The Beautiful, Blue Danube").

On 31 August, Charles Baudelaire tragically follows E.A. Poe in one more way, dying young (at age forty-six).

In Japan, Tokugawa Keiki becomes the last Shogun, and begins to prepare the Japanese government for transition to a new system.

Masaoka Tsunenori is born in Mutsuyame, Japan.  Under the pen name Masaoka Shiki, he shall become the greatest modern writer of haiku and tanka within thirty years.

1868--The first aeronautical exhibition in history is held at the Crystal Palace.

The Crystal Palace Athletics Club, focusing on gymnasium activities, is formed.

In Paris, Zénobe-Théophile Gramme, aged forty-two, invents the first continuous-current dynamo.

Unpopular since his bid to extend the vote to women, John Stuart Mill is defeated in the General Election.

Charles Reade and Dion Boucicault write Foul Play, which provides an exposé of unsafe conditions aboard ships.

Charles Baudelaire's final volume of poetry, Petits poèmes en prose, is published posthumously.  These works help popularize prose poems such as proved very popular in much of the twentieth century.

After observing a solar eclipse from a marsh, King Mongkut and his son, Crown Prince Chulalongkorn, both contract malaria.  Chulalongkorn recovers, but King Mongkut dies, and is posthumously given the title Rama IV.  Chulalongkorn, a great reformer, becomes next king, refuses request by Ann Leon Owens (then traveling abroad) to return.

In Japan, Tokugawa Keiki steps aside as old Emperor Komei dies, and is succeeded by Prince Mutsuhito, who assumes the imperial name of Meiji.  The Tokugawa Period, three centuries long, ends.  Japan officially turns to embrace foreign culture, especially that of Britain.

British transportation of convicts to Australia is stopped.

British troops imported during unrest of 1864 are removed as New Zealand seems peaceful.

Frances Eliza Hodgson publishes her first story with Godey's Ladies' Book, a US magazine.

Ellen Terry, still officially married to an artist, G.F. Watts, leaves the stage (and London) to live in Hertfordshire for several years with Edward Godwin.

1869--The capital of Japan is officially moved from Kyoto to Edo, now renamed Tokyo.

W.S. Gilbert's first work for the Reeds at the Royal Gallery of Illustration, No Cards, debuts on 29 March.  It is a one-act comic work with music by Thomas German Reed.  The name Lionel Elliott also appears on the bills, although his true identity is uncertain.  Priscilla (Horton) Reed takes the starring contralto role.

John Stuart Mill publishes The Subjection of Women.

Afrikaners from the Orange Free State conquer the Basuto.  The ensuing treaty establishes the familiar boundaries of several South African political entities.

In the US, the first transcontinental railroad line is completed, linking the Union Pacific and the Western Pacific at Promontory Point, Nevada, with a golden spike (which is driven in for ceremonial purposes, but is later withdrawn and replaced by a more functional--and less costly--steel spike).  The work was largely done by Chinese immigrants working east from California and Irish immigrants working west from the Mississippi River.  Word of the completion is sent by telegraph around nearly half of the world; people across the US celebrate it as a great triumph.  That is literally "word"--the message from the site was simply "Done."

Also in the US, George Westinghouse invents steam brakes for locomotives.

In Canada, the Comité Nacional des Métis is founded by Louis Riel in Manitoba, rebelling against the coming incorporation of Manitoba, then a separate colony, into the Canadian union.  The Métis feel their interests will be injured by being brought more closely under the rule of the British Empire.  (They have been largely autonomous until now.)  Riel is banished to the United States for urging rebellion; the Red River Rebellion starts as his supporters take up arms.

On 22 November, Gilbert's second work for the Reeds debuts at the Royal Gallery of Illustration.  It is Ages Ago, another one-act light entertainment, with music provided by Frederic Clay.  In it, a gallery of portraits come to life, providing much of the humor.  This both echoes The Court Beauties and prefigures Gilbert's own Ruddigore.

Augustin Daly forms his own theater company.

Click here to return to Contents.

1870--W.S. Gilbert's third work for the Reeds at the Royal Olympic Theatre spoofs Alfred, Lord Tennyson's long poem, The Princess.  Debuting on 8 January, this work, bearing the same title as the poem, forms the basis of the later Princess Ida, with Arthur Sullivan replacing the music.

German kingdom of Prussia attacks France; Franco-Prussian War ensues.  Nations had quarrelled over alliances and interference in foreign politics.  Paris is quickly put under siege.  Napoléon III is removed from the throne of France.  It is largely disgust with his increasingly stronghanded leadership and fatigue with his continual wars that allows the Prussians to move quickly through the northeastern provinces of France.  However, Paris puts up a noteworthy resistance at great cost to itself.

His Liddell girls having grown up (Alice was getting married) and out of contact, Charles L. Dodgson links together some previously unused Alice stories to form a second children's adventure, Through the Looking-Glass.  Although it embodies much the same sorts of humor as the first book, a certain nostalgia and wistfulness are evident to many readers, as if Dodgson is weeping over the lost days of happiness.  After a close friendship with the Liddells, Dodgson seems to have offended them--quite possibly by simply acting as if he was an equal with the family members of his Dean.  (Academics can be miserable snobs in any era.

Charles Reade publishes Put Yourself in His Place, a novel about trade unions.

John Ruskin is appointed a professor of fine art at Oxford.  He will continue to write throughout his long life.

Christina Rossetti publishes Commonplace and Other Stories.

On 6 June, Charles Dickens dies at the age of fifty-eight.  At the time, he is writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood, an oddly appropriate title for a novel he never finished.

W.S. Gilbert's play, The Gentlemen in Black, debuts on 26 May at Charing Cross Theatre.  It features music by Frederic Clay.

W.S. Gilbert's next Reed entertainment, Our Island Home, debuts at the Royal Gallery of Illustration on 20 June.  Its music is again by Thomas German Reed.

C.J. Mathews tours India and Australia.

Manitoba joins Canada.  The Red River Rebellion ends.

In Australia, forty-four year old London native Charles Todd begins oversight of the construction of a telegraph line to link Port Augusta with Darwin--the "Overland Telegraph Line."  It is to follow, or at least parallel, much of the route taken by John Macdouall Stuart.  Todd has previously extended the telegraph system within the colony of South Australia.

W.S. Gilbert meets Arthur S. Sullivan, beginning their collaboration.

In Munich, Richard Wagner debuts Die Walküre (The Valkyrie).

On 19 November, a piece of Gilbert's which Planché particularly admires, debuts at the Royal Gallery of Illustration.  It is a three-act fairy piece, The Palace of Truth.

William Lyman invents the first modern can opener.

1871--On 2 April, another Gilbert musical fairy piece, Creatures of Impulse, debuts at the Royal Court Theatre.  It features music by Alberto Randegger.

On April 27, W.C. Macready dies at age seventy-eight.

On 29 May, a "play" (a relatively serious adaptation) of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations by W.S. Gilbert debuts at the Royal Court Theatre.

In Paris, after considerable suffering and starvation, leading even to the slaughter of the animals in the Paris Zoo for food, French forces surrender to the Prussians, ending the war.

Prussian victory leads to unification of Germany, for the first time in its history, under the leadership of the Prussian King Wilhelm I and the Prussian Chancellor (Prime Minister) Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck.  It is officially known as the Deutschesreich, or "German Empire," but most people call it Deutschland, or "Germany."

C.J. Mathews comes to the United States for the third and last time.

Christina Rossetti publishes A Pageant and Other Poems.

Mary Ann Evans ("George Eliot") begins serial publication of Middlemarch.

George Macdonald publishes a children's book, At the Back of the North Wind.

Gilbert's comedy, On Guard, boasting a punning title in keeping with contemporary theatrical tastes, debuts on 28 October.

Gilbert's Pygmalion and Galatea, featuring a popular burlesque and fantasy subject of the time, debuts at the Haymarket on 9 December.

Gilbert and Sullivan produce their first collaborative effort, Thespis, a treatment of the Greek gods which recalls the classical burlesques of J.R. Planché and Charles Dance.  It debuts on Boxing Day, much like the earlier extravaganzas.

Albert Hall is built in London.

Herny Irving appears in the most-acclaimed role of his career, a guilt-haunted killer in the melodrama of The Bells.  He will perform the role many times during the rest of his life.

Augustin Daly debuts Horizon.

Daly also debuts Divorce.

In Cairo, Giuseppe Verdi debuts Aïda as part of the celebration of the completion of the Suez Canal.

French composer Daniel Auber dies.

George Hudson, the "Railway King" of the 1840s, dies in London at age 71.

Feudalism is abolished in Japan.

British Columbia joins Dominion of Canada.

Possible date of legendary contest between John Henry (probably an ex-slave) and a steam drill in digging the Great Bend Tunnel in West Virginia.

1872--Planché writes song lyrics for Dion Boucicault's Babil and Bijou; or, the Lost Regalia of Fairyland.  The six-hour extravaganza fails to make money; Boucicault flees to U.S. to escape negative publicity.  Sarcastic jabs are made at what wits term "Babble and Bee-Juice."  Although he eventually will visit the British Isles again, Boucicault makes the United States his home from then on.

James Whstler begins a painting of the Old Battersea Bridge at night.  It will not be complete until 1875.

The first Football Association Challenge Cup competition is held.

Prime Minister William Gladstone helps create the Ballot Act, which institutes the private ballot in the UK.

Anna Leonowens (formerly Leon Owens) moves to US, begins writing An English Governess in the Court of Siam, a highly-fictgionalized account of her life with King Mongkut.  (She was never truly a governess, for instance, but simply a tutor.)

A group of Planché's friends publish a collection of his extravaganzas, burlesques, and revues, The Extravaganzas of J.R. Planché.

Scottish writer and scholar Andrew Lang, aged twenty-eight, publishes his Ballads and Lyrics of Old France while a fellow at Balliol College, Oxford.

Mary Ann Evans completes her publication of Middlemarch.

George Macdonald publishes The Princess and the Goblin.

Arthur S. Sullivan composes "Propior Deo" (Latin, "Nearer to God") as his first setting for "Nearer, My God, to Thee."  He later composes a second tune, "St. Edmond," for the same lyrics, but it is more often used as a setting for other hymns.

One of W.S. Gilbert's farces, A Medical Man, debuts on 24 October at St. George's Hall.

W.S. Gilbert writes a "play," Happy Arcadia, with his old collaborator, Frederic Clay.  It debuts at the Royal Gallery of Illustration on 28 October.

Charles Todd sends the first transcontinental telegram in Australian history, to mark the completion of the Overland line.  His line is very quickly also linked to a new British undersea line to Java, making it possible to send a message from the cities of South Australian to Java in a matter of minutes.

American actor Edwin Forrest dies in Philadelphia on 12 December, aged sixty-six years.

1873--Yet another Gilbert fairy piece, The Wicked World, debuts on 4 January at the Haymarket.

A Gilbert extravaganza (written without using his real name this time) debuts on 3 March at the Royal Court Theatre--The Happy Land, in which Gilbert pointedly ridiculed current politicians until government action forced the rewriting of some of the scenes.

Dion Boucicault debuts The O'Dowd, about a family patriarch whose son is wrongly accused and deported to Australia.  It is his third "Irish" play, and featured a version of the 1798 Fenian rebel song, "The Wearin' of the Green."  The lyrics Boucicault wrote are so inflammatory that when the play appears in London, Parliament tells Boucicault he may not sing the song in Great Britain, unless he sticks to the traditional words, although he is allowed to sing it when he performs in Dublin.

Prince Edward Island joins Dominion of Canada.

Sir John A. Macdonald's first term as Prime Minister of Canada ends.

John Stuart Mill dies two days past his sixty-seventh birthday.

Frances Eliza Hodgson marries a Dr. Swan Moses Burnett, despite his given name.  She becomes Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett.

George Macdonald publishes The Princess and the Curdie, a sequel to his previous year's book.

1874--Tennis is developed as a women's game, distinct from squash, by Major Walter C. Wingfield, who began working on it the previous year while stationed in India.  He calls his game "sphaeristike," after an ancient ball and racket game.

Dion Boucicault writes his fourth "Irish" play, The Shaughraun ("The Wanderer"), which is about a man who is wrongly accused of taking part in the Fenian rebellion.  It has no inflammatory song, but does feature a lovable tramp who aids the good guys to win out, ultimately.  Of course, the title tramp was played by Boucicault.  It also featured a sensation scene of a man escaping from a tower by climbing down its outer surface, in full view of the audience.

Britain claims the Fiji Islands as a colony.

James Whistler sues John Ruskin for libel over the latter's criticism of a painting, Nocturne in Black and Gold:  The Falling Rocket.  It will be four years before the trial is heard.  (Dickens' criticism of the court system's slowness is vindicated again.)

1875--Gilbert and Sullivan's Trial by Jury debuts on 25 March.

W.S. Gilbert writes his final of five musical plays for the German Reeds, Eyes and No Eyes; or, the Art of Seeing, which is produced on 5 July at St. George's Hall.

Edwin Godwin, in collaboration with others, begins to design artists' residences, first at Bedford Park, and then later at Chelsea (in London).

Andrew Lang leaves Balliol College and moves to London.

Robert Louis Stevenson, in his twenty-fifth year, leaves Britain for the Riviera, seeking a climate where his health will be restored by gentle weather.

James Whistler completes his painting Old Battersea Bridge:  Nocturne--Blue and Gold.  It probably took him part of the three years simply to think up that title.

In Paris, Georges Bizet debuts Carmen.

Bosnia and Bulgaria rebel against the Turkish Empire.

Inspired by the success of Charles Todd's Overland Telegraph Line, the colonies of West Australia and South Australia begin an east-west transcontinental line.

1876--Queen Victoria is crowned Empress of India by Benjamin Disraeli.

Anna Leonowens writers her second Siam book, The Romance of the Harem.

In Turkey, Adbul-Hamid II, the Sultan who will preside over the dismemberment of the Turkish Empire and the end of the Ottoman Dynasty, assumes the throne.

Bosnian and Bulgarian rebellions end (temporarily).

The Polytechnic Institute closes after thirty-eight years in business.

Mary Ann Evans publishes Daniel Deronda as a serial.

Gilbert's Princess Toto opens at the Nottingham Theatre on 24 June.  It boasts music by Frederic Clay.

Designer Edward Godwin marries, and this prompts Ellen Terry to consider returning to the stage.  (Sad, perhaps, for her, but wonderful for a generation of playgoers!)

In Bayreuth, Richard Wagner completes his Festspielhaus, which opens with the first complete performance of Das Ring der Nibelungen.

In the US, Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.

The United States celebrates its centennial year.

1877--US astronomers discover Deimos and Phobos, the moons of Mars.

Producer Richard D'Oyly Carte first works with W.S. Gilbert and Arthur S. Sullivan on The Sorcerer.  It debuts on 17 November.

Ellen Terry finally divorces G.F. Watts, and soon marries actor Charles Kelly.  They separate quickly, though.

Henry Irving undertakes the management of the Lyceum Theatre.

Fanny Kemble returns to England for good.

In the US, Thomas Alva Edison invents the phonograph, saying "Hello, hello, hello," and reciting "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on his first trial.  The music was by neither Arthur Sullivan nor Frederic Clay.

The east-west transcontinental telegraph line is completed in Australia.

The Russo-Turkish War begins.

Britain annexes the Afrikaner South African Republic in the Transvaal.

1878--The Forty Thieves, written by W.S. Gilbert, Robert Reece, F.C. Burnand, and H.J. Byron, opens on 13 February at the Gaiety.  Each man evidently wrote the parts of ten thieves.  This piece is particularly glittery, with the "thieves" actually becoming brigand chiefs, played by women in scanty costumes.  Each "thief" is followed by a similarly sexy troop of female assistant thieves, each clad in the same colors her chieftain wore.

Giblert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore debuts on 25 May.

C.J. Mathews dies.

Richard D'Oyly Carte produces Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore.

Henry Irving secures Ellen Terry for the Lyceum Theatre, beginning a very long partnership of two kindred artists.  As actors, they complement each other; offstage, they share similar creative goals.

Fanny Kemble publishes her autobiographical Records of a Girlhood.

A.C. Swinburne publishes his second volume of Poems and Ballads.

George Henry Lewes (the common-law husband of Mary Ann Evans, "George Eliot") dies on 30 November.

Russia signs treaty with Turkey; much of Turkish territory in Europe is lost.  Cyprus passes to the control of the United Kingdom.  Bosnia and Herzegovina become protectorates of the Austrian Empire.  Bulgaria and Montenegro gain independence.

Sir John A. Macdonald, now sixty-three years old, enters his second term as the Prime Minister of Canada.  He will serve in this capacity until 1891, when he will die at the age of seventy-six.

John Ruskin's attempt at a perfect community, the Guild of St. George, is formally founded, although Ruskin has been planning it for many, many years.

In November, James Whistler's suit of libel against John Ruskin wins the princely sum of one farthing!

The Salvation Army is founded in London.

1879--Planché publishes his collected extravaganzas with scholarly notes.

W.S. Gilbert's tragedy, Gretchen, opens on 24 March.

Frances Hodgson Burnett publishes a novel, Haworth's.

Pirates of Penzance debuts in New York City.

Daly's Theatre opens in New York.

J.B. Buckstone ("Bucky") dies at age seventy-seven. He is still reputed to haunt the Haymarket Theatre.

James Whistler, whose paintings are popular but do not command enough money to pay all his bills, especially the legal ones from suing Ruskin, declares bankruptcy and leaves Britain for Italy for more than a year.

Ford Madox Brown begins work on a series of twelve paintings for the Manchester city hall (which project he will not complete until 1893).

Sir Joseph Wilson Swan in Britain and Thomas Alva Edison in the US invent light bulbs independently of one another.  Swan's bulbs are earlier than Edison's; the latter's are somewhat more durable.

1880--Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance debuts on 5 April.

Mary Ann Evans marries her investment advisor, John Walter Cross, on 6 May.  He is twenty; she is sixty-one.  You go, girl!

J.R. Planché dies at age eighty-four.

Mary Ann Evans ("George Eliot") dies at age sixty-one on 22 December.

Priscilla Reed (née Horton) retires from performing.

Universal compulsory, free, and secular schooling established by law in New South Wales owing to the work of Sir Charles Parkes.

Frances Hodgson Burnett publishes another novel, Louisiana.

Afrikaners in the Transvaal rebel against British rule and re-establish the South African Republic.

Mary Ann Evans Cross ("George Eliot") dies in London on 22 December, at age sixty-one.

1881--Planché's daughter Matilda Mackarness dies on 6 May, which, oddly enough, would have been Mary Ann Evans' first wedding anniversary, had she lived long enough.

Richard D'Oyly Carte builds the Savoy Theatre in London to stage the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience debuts on 23 April.

Frances Hodgson Burnett publishes yet another novel, A Fair Barbarian.  She also cranked out the play, Esmeralda, in collaboration with William Gillette.

Robert Louis Stevenson, aged thirty-one, publishes Treasure Island.

In Paris, the Electrical Lighting Exposition (l'Exposition de la lumière électrique) is held.

Gilbert's comedy, Foggerty's Fairy debuts on 15 December at the Criterion Theatre.

1882--Egypt becomes a protectorate of the United Kingdom.

The British Association elects to name the unit used to measure energy after James Watt.  That's "watt," not "james," by the way.

American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow dies at age seventy-five on 24 March.

Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe, with its satirical fairy subject, debuts on 25 November.

Fanny Kemble publishes her autobiographical Records of Later Life.

Andrew Lang publishes a book of poetry, Helen of Troy.

1883--Arthur S. Sullivan is knighted for his music.

Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, and their company tour the US.

Frances Hodgson Burnett writes yet another novel, Through One Administration.

Andrew Lang, with Walter Leaf and Ernest Myers, publishes a translation of the Iliad.

1884--Gilbert and Sullivan's Princess Ida debuts on 5 January.

Gilbert's Comedy and Tragedy opens on 26 January at the Lyceum.

American inventor Hiram Maxim, working in the UK, develops the "Maxim gun," the first automatic machine gun (which advances the ammunition itself, rather than being cranked like a Gatling gun).

1884--Andrew Lang publishes a volume of scholarship which Planché would have appreciated highly:  Custom and Myth.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow becomes the first American to be memorialized with a bust in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey.

Charles Reade dies on 11 April, three months short of his eightieth birthday.

Austrian ballerina Fanny Eissler, retired for more than three decades, dies at seventy-four in Vienna on 27 November.

1885--Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado debuts on 14 March.  Its popularity leads military bands to play its tunes at public occasions--but the Japanese ambassador later requests them not to do so at diplomatic functions, since the Japanese are objects of fun in the operetta.

Hiram Maxim demonstrates his gun publicly.

1886--Frances Hodgson Burnett publishes Little Lord Fauntleroy, the book which made little boys the world over hate her passionately, as their mothers sought to dress them (and train them to act) like the book's rather feminine hero, modeled on her son, Vivian.  She later will write other children's classics, such as The Light Princess (1905) and The Secret Garden (1911).  Those books, however, will not make children despise her.

Robert Louis Stevenson publishes both Kidnapped and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Edwin Godwin, designer and common-law husband of Ellen Terry, dies on 6 October.

1887--Queen Victoria celebrates her Golden Jubilee year.

American markswoman Annie Oakley tours the United Kingdom and meets Queen Victoria.

Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore opens on 22 January.

Nigeria is carved out of the lands of the Ibo, Yoruba, and Hausa peoples in western Africa.

1888--Gilbert and Sullivan's The Yeomen of the Guard debuts on 3 October.

Rudyard Kipling, aged twenty-two, publishes "Baa Baa Black Sheep," beginning his career.

Charles Dickens' All the Year 'Round finally folds up.

1889--Hiram Maxim sells his gun design to the British Army.

Stephen Paget theorizes cancer cells spread through the body via the blood.

Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers opens on 7 December.

A.C. Swinburne publishes his third volume of Poems and Ballads.

1890--Hiram Maxim sells his gun to several Continental nations.

A railroad bridge, approximately a third of a mile in length, is opened in Scotland.  It is the world's longest such bridge.

On 18 September, Augustin Daly dies in New York City at the age of fifty-five.

1893--Fanny Kemble dies on 15 January in London.  She is a few months past her eighty-third birthday.

Daly's Theatre opens in London.

1895--Henry Irving is knighted by Queen Victoria, the first actor in British history to be so honored.

Click here to return to Contents.