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A Complete Chronological List of Charles Dickens’ Last Sentences

A few months ago I posted A list of all Charles Dickens’ opening lines for the simple reason of it not being done before anywhere on the internet. It seemed appreciated and showed some interesting correlation between the point in his life when the novels were written and how the sentences were structured.

Some people enjoyed that and requested that I do the same with some  Charles Dickens last sentences, so here it is.

Other than that, reading this would be spoiling all the novels and is an utterly dreadful thing. If you’re now getting cold feet about the morality of what you’re about to read, scroll no further, go buy the complete collection, and read them all.

Charles Dickens’ Last sentences

Every year, he repairs to a large family merry-making at Mr. Wardle’s; on this, as on all other occasions, he is invariably attended by the faithful Sam, between whom and his master there exists a steady and reciprocal attachment which nothing but death will terminate.

The Pickwick Papers (Monthly serial: April 1836 to November 1837)

I believe it none the less because that nook is in a Church, and she was weak and erring.

Oliver Twist (Monthly serial: February 1837 to April 1839)

Through all the spring and summer-time, garlands of fresh flowers, wreathed by infant hands, rested on the stone; and, when the children came thereto change them lest they should wither and be pleasant to him no longer, their eyes filled with tears, and they spoke low and softly of their poor dead cousin.

Nicholas Nickelby (Monthly serial: April 1838 to October 1839)

Such are the changes which a few years bring about, and so do things pass away, like a tale that is told!

The Old Curiosity Shop (Weekly serial: April 1840 to February 1841)

From that period (although he was supposed to be much affected by the death of Mr. Willet senior), he constantly practised and improved himself in the vulgar tongue; and, as he was a mere infant for a raven when Barnaby was grey, he has very probably gone on talking to the present time.

Barnaby Rudge (Weekly Serial: February 1841 to November 1841)

And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!

A Christmas Carol (1843)

As it resounds within thee and without, the noble music, rolling around ye both, shuts out the grosser prospect of an earthly parting, and uplifts ye both to Heaven!

Martin Chuzzlewit (Monthly serial: January 1843 to July 1844)

So may each year be happier than the last, and not the meanest of our brethren or sisterhood debarred their rightful share, in what our Great Creator formed them to enjoy.

The Chimes (1844)

A Cricket sings upon the Hearth; a broken child’s-toy lies upon the ground; and nothing else remains.

The Cricket on the Hearth (1845)

But, as I have observed that time confuses facts occasionally, I hardly know what weight to give to his authority.

The Battle of Life (1846)

 LORD KEEP MY MEMORY GREEN.

The Haunted Man (1848)

He only answers ‘Little Florence! Little Florence!’ and smooths away the curls that shade her earnest eyes.

Dombey and Son (Monthly serial: October 1846 to April 1848)

Oh Agnes, oh my soul, so may thy face be by me when I close my life indeed; so may I, when realities are melting from me like the shadows which I now dismiss, still find thee near me, pointing upward!

David Copperfield (Monthly serial: May 1849 to November 1850)

But I know that my dearest little pets are very pretty, and that my darling is very beautiful, and that my husband is very handsome, and that my guardian has the brightest and most benevolent face that ever was seen; and that they can very well do without much beauty in me-even supposing-

Bleak House (Monthly serial: March 1852 to September 1853)

 We shall sit with lighter bosoms on the hearth, to see the ashes of our fires turn grey and cold.

Hard Times (Weekly serial: April 1854 to August 1854)

They went quietly down into the roaring streets, inseparable and blessed; and as they passed along in sunshine and shade, the noisy and the eager, and the arrogant and the froward and the vain, fretted, and chafed, and made their usual uproar.

Little Dorrit (Monthly serial: December 1855 to June 1857)

 ‘It is a far far better thing I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.’

A Tale of two Cities (Weekly serial: April 1859 to November 1859

I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so, the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.

Great Expectations (Weekly serial:December 1860 to August 1861)

When the company disperse- by which time Mr. and Mrs. Veneering have had quite as much as they want of the honour, and the guests have had quite as much as they want of the other honour- Mortimer sees Twemlow home, shakes hands with him cordially at parting, and fares to the Temple, gaily.

Our Mutual Friend (Monthly serial: May 1864 to November 1865)

Before sitting down to it, he opens his corner cupboard door; takes his bit of chalk from its shelf; adds one thick line to the score, extending from the top of the cupboard door to the bottom; and then falls to with an appetite.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Monthly serial: April 1870 to September 1870. Incomplete.)

That’s it. I hope you enjoyed them.

A Complete Chronological List of Charles Dickens’ Opening Sentences

These are the opening sentences from every Charles Dickens novel and novella, including his incomplete Edwin Drood serial, in chronological order, from the beginning of his novel-writing career to his death in 1870.

Why bother? Because I tried to find somewhere on the internet that had a complete list of his sentences, but there were none. There are several examples where his opening lines are shown in a list of great first sentences, but they are mostly all A Christmas Carol and excerpts from A Tale of Two Cities. What I’m trying to say is that this is a great service to the world.

As Dickens is often cited in lists of great openers, it would be fair to say he was good at them, so I hope that seeing them in chronological order will show a progression- or, at least, a change-  over his writing career.

Charles Dickens opening sentences

The first ray of light which illumines the gloom, and converts into a dazzling brilliancy that obscurity in which the earlier history of the public career of the immortal Pickwick would appear to be involved, is derived from the perusal of the following entry in the Transactions of the Pickwick Club, which the editor of these papers feels the highest pleasure in laying before his readers, as a proof of the careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination, with which his search among the multifarious documents confided to him has been conducted.

The Pickwick Papers (Monthly serial: April 1836 to November 1837)

Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.

Oliver Twist (Monthly serial: February 1837 to April 1839)

There once lived, in a sequestered part of the county of Devonshire, one Mr Godfrey Nickleby: a worthy gentleman, who, taking it into his head rather late in life that he must get married, and not being young enough or rich enough to aspire to the hand of a lady of fortune, had wedded an old flame out of mere attachment, who in her turn had taken him for the same reason. Thus two people who cannot afford to play cards for money, sometimes sit down to a quiet game for love.

Nicholas Nickelby (Monthly serial: April 1838 to October 1839)

ALTHOUGH I am an old man, night is generally my time for walking.

The Old Curiosity Shop (Weekly serial: April 1840 to February 1841)

In the year 1775, there stood upon the borders of Epping Forest, at a distance of about twelve miles from London–measuring from the Standard in Cornhill,’ or rather from the spot on or near to which the Standard used to be in days of yore–a house of public entertainment called the Maypole; which fact was demonstrated to all such travellers as could neither read nor write (and at that time a vast number both of travellers and stay-at-homes were in this condition) by the emblem reared on the roadside over against the house, which, if not of those goodly proportions that Maypoles were wont to present in olden times, was a fair young ash, thirty feet in height, and straight as any arrow that ever English yeoman drew.

Barnaby Rudge (Weekly Serial: February 1841 to November 1841)

Marley was dead: to begin with.

A Christmas Carol (1843)

As no lady or gentleman, with any claims to polite breeding, can possibly sympathize with the Chuzzlewit Family without being first assured of the extreme antiquity of the race, it is a great satisfaction to know that it undoubtedly descended in a direct line from Adam and Eve; and was, in the very earliest times, closely connected with the agricultural interest.

Martin Chuzzlewit (Monthly serial: January 1843 to July 1844)

There are not many people and as it is desirable that a storyteller and a story-reader should establish a mutual understanding as soon as possible, I beg it to be noticed that I confine this observation neither to young people nor to little people, but extend it to all conditions of people: little and big, young and old: yet growing up, or already growing down again there are not, I say, many people who would care to sleep in a church.

The Chimes (1844)

The kettle began it!

The Cricket on the Heart (1845)

Once upon a time, it matters little when, and in stalwart England, it matters little where, a fierce battle was fought.

The Battle of Life (1846)

EVERYBODY said so.

The Haunted Man (1848)

DOMBEY sat in the corner of the darkened room in the great arm-chair by the bedside, and Son lay tucked up warm in a little basket bedstead, carefully disposed on a low settee immediately in front of the fire and close to it, as if his constitution were analogous to that of a muffin, and it was essential to toast him brown while he was very new.

Dombey and Son (Monthly serial: October 1846 to April 1848)

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.

David Copperfield (Monthly serial: May 1849 to November 1850)

LONDON.

Bleak House (Monthly serial: March 1852 to September 1853)

“NOW, what I want is, Facts.”

Hard Times (Weekly serial: April 1854 to August 1854)

THIRTY years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun, one day.

Little Dorrit (Monthly serial: December 1855 to June 1857)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

A Tale of two Cities (Weekly serial: April 1859 to November 1859

My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip.

Great Expectations (Weekly serial:December 1860 to August 1861)

In these times of ours, though concerning the exact year there is no need to be precise, a boat of dirty and disreputable appearance, with two figures in it, floated on the Thames, between Southwark bridge which is of iron, and London Bridge which is of stone, as an autumn evening was closing in.

Our Mutual Friend (Monthly serial: May 1864 to November 1865)

An ancient English Cathedral Town?

The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Monthly serial: April 1870 to September 1870. Only half completed.)

That’s all. If you’re not done, head over to the complete list of Charles Dickens’ last sentences.