Year
1859

Final installment of A Tale of Two Cities is published

On this day in 1859, Charles Dickens’ serialized novel, A Tale of Two Cities, comes to a close, as the final chapter is published in Dickens’ circular, All the Year Round.

Dickens was born in 1812 and attended school in Portsmouth. His father, a clerk in the navy pay office, was thrown in debtors’ prison in 1824, and 12-year-old Charles was sent to work in a factory. The miserable treatment of children and the institution of the debtors’ jail became topics of several of Dickens’ novels.

In his late teens, Dickens became a reporter and started publishing humorous short stories when he was 21. In 1836, a collection of his stories, Sketches by Boz, was published. The same year, he married Catherine Hogarth, with whom he would have nine children.

The success of Dicken’s first work of fiction, Sketches by Boz, later known as The Pickwick Papers was soon reproduced with Oliver Twist (1838) and Nicholas Nickleby (1839). In 1841, Dickens published two more novels, then spent five months in the United States, where he was welcomed as a literary hero. Dickens never lost momentum as a writer, churning out major novels every year or two, often in serial form. Among his most important works are David Copperfield(1850), Great Expectations (1861), and A Tale of Two Cities (1859).

Beginning in 1850, he published his own weekly circular of fiction, poetry, and essays called Household Words. He folded the circular in 1859 and launched another, All the Year Round, which included the first chapter of A Tale of Two Cities. In 1858, Dickens separated from his wife and began a long association with a young actress. He gave frequent readings, which became immensely popular. He died in 1870 at the age of 58, with his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, still unfinished.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Baby Fae dies

“Baby Fae,” a month-old infant who had received a baboon-heart transplant, dies at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, California. The infant, named Baby Fae by doctors to protect her parents’ anonymity, was born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, an almost ...read more

Erwin Rommel is born

Erwin Rommel, the German commander known as the “Desert Fox” for his cunning in North Africa during World War II, is born in Heidenheim, Germany. Rommel’s father and grandfather were teachers, but he chose a military career for himself, enlisting in the German army as an officer ...read more

Brazil’s last emperor deposed

After a 49-year reign, Pedro II, the second and last emperor of Brazil, is deposed in a military coup. The Brazilian monarchy was established in 1822, when Portugal’s crown prince, Dom Pedro, defied his Parliament and proclaimed an independent Brazil under his rule. The Brazilian ...read more

First stock ticker debuts

On this day in 1867, the first stock ticker is unveiled in New York City. The advent of the ticker ultimately revolutionized the stock market by making up-to-the-minute prices available to investors around the country. Prior to this development, information from the New York ...read more

Second moratorium against the war held

Following a symbolic three-day “March Against Death,” the second national “moratorium” opens with mass demonstrations in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Organized by the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (“New Mobe”), an estimated 500,000 demonstrators ...read more

Craig Breedlove sets new land-speed record

On November 15, 1965 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, 28-year-old Californian Craig Breedlove sets a new land-speed record–600.601 miles an hour–in his car, the Spirit of America, which cost $250,000 and was powered by a surplus engine from a Navy jet. He actually drove ...read more

President Carter hosts shah of Iran

On this day in 1977, President Jimmy Carter welcomes Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the shah of Iran, and his wife, Empress (or “Shahbanou”) Farrah, to Washington. Over the next two days, Carter and Pahlavi discussed improving relations between the two countries. Two years later, the two ...read more

Plane crashes into Sri Lankan plantation

A plane carrying Muslim pilgrims from Mecca to Indonesia crashes in Sri Lanka on this day in 1978, killing 183 people. The Icelandic Airlines DC-8 was chartered by Garuda Indonesian Airways to carry Muslim pilgrims back to Indonesia from their trek to Mecca. The flight was ...read more

The March to the Sea begins

On this day in 1864, Union General William T. Sherman begins his expedition across Georgia by torching the industrial section of Atlanta and pulling away from his supply lines. For the next six weeks, Sherman’s army destroyed most ofthe statebefore capturing the Confederate ...read more

Articles of Confederation adopted

After 16 months of debate, the Continental Congress, sitting in its temporary capital of York, Pennsylvania, agrees to adopt the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union on this day in 1777. Not until March 1, 1781, would the last of the 13 states, Maryland, ratify the ...read more