1812: Birth at Landport, Portsea, on February 7, 1812.

1824: Father, John Dickens, imprisoned for debt.

1836: Writes Sunday Under Three Heads. Begins Pickwick Papers. Marries Catherine Hogarth on April 2.

1837: First child, Charles Culliford Boz Dickens, born.

1838: Oliver Twist published in three volumes.

1842: First visit to the United States.

1843: A Christmas Carol published; it immediately sells 6,000 copies.

1849: Writes The Life of Our Lord for his children; publication delayed at his request until 1934.

1850: David Copperfield published. Dickens starts his own magazine, Household Words.

1852: Tenth and final child, Edward Dickens, born.

1853: First public reading of A Christmas Carol.

1858: Separated from his wife.

1859: A Tale of Two Cities published.

1861: Great Expectations published.

1869: Begins work on his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

1870: Dies from a seizure June 9, leaving The Mystery of Edwin Drood unfinished. Buried in Poets’ Comer, Westminster Abbey.

Stephen Rost, a writer from Mesquite, Texas, is the editor of eight volumes in the Christian Classics Series (Nelson, 1988–9).