The Fellowship was founded in London in 1902.
These were "to knit together in a common bond of friendship lovers of the great master of humour and pathos, Charles Dickens", to spread the love of humanity, to campaign against those "social evils" that most concerned Dickens, and "to assist in the preservation and purchase of buildings and objects associated with his name or mentioned in his works".
In a change to the Constitution agreed in 2005, an additional objective was introduced - to promote the knowledge and appreciation of his works. This was to reflect the change in emphasis of the Fellowship's activities, as outlined below.
The Dickensian first appeared in 1905, edited by one of the leading founders of the Fellowship, B.W. Matz (1865-1925).
In 1925, the Fellowship purchased 48 Doughty Street in London, home of Charles Dickens from 1837 to 1839. The Dickens House Trust was established to run the house as a museum and library. The Charles Dickens Museum is the head office of the Fellowship.
Following the assumption by government of many of the responsibilities previously taken by charities, charitable works have become less prominent among the Fellowship's activities, but still form part of its business. The preservation and development of the Charles Dickens Museum remains a key concern and the Fellowship has been involved with conservation and preservation work at Gad's Hill Place, Dickens's last home. Otherwise, in the programmes of activities arranged by Heaquarters and by the branches, and through The Dickensian and other publications, the Fellowship has continued to project the spirit of Dickens and his works, and to foster the highest standards of scholarship in this field.