And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

23 August

1675
Robert Hooke,
scientist

‘R. Smith here about Dr. Hamey. With Andrews to Sir Ch. Wren about sand and rubble for Paules. Delivered back to Martin, Simsons book and Hobbs de mirabilibus Pecci. With Sir Ch: Wren to Lord Mayors to Bedlam. To Physicians Colledge. To Paules wharf. Coles at Hearnes. At Mrs. Mayors. Heard of Bloodworth’s sicknesse at Garaways.’

Boglice round the neck

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1716
Thomas Hearne,
antiquary

‘Sir Christopher Wren says the ways of making mortar with hair came into fashion in queen Elizabeth’s time. Sir Christ. says there were no masons in London when he was a young man. Sir Christ. is about 85 years of age.’

Remarks and collections

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1765
John Rutty,
doctor

‘A vicious feast, wherein I exceeded in meat and drink, for want of circumspection and prudence, a sin against God, the framer of the constitution, and not less than defiling his temple: O God, in the name of thy beloved, pardon this sin, and prevent for the future, I beseech thee: give more of thy fear!’

A vicious feast

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1792
William Godwin,
philosopher and writer

‘Walk to Rumford, 3 hours: stage to town, breakfast at miss Godwin’s: dine at Mr Marshal’s. See Cross Partners’

William Godwin’s diary

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1883
John Dearman Birchall,
businessman

‘I tricycled over to Peers Court, Stinchcomb and lunched with the Brooke-Hunts, 16 1/2 miles; then on to Hempstead, to a garden party and home by Gloucester, 36 miles in all. I rode Clara’s tricycle and sustained a flying fall in going down a sudden pitch. I was not hurt and enjoyed my day immensely.’

The tricycle diaries

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1893
Archduke Franz Ferdinand

‘In the morning I again tried my luck to do some shopping in Yokohama and in fact this time guided by the kind Baron Siebold who was completely familiar with Japan and all its aspects thanks to his stay of many years here and also speaking the Japanese language. Unfortunately my efforts were unsuccessful as I tried in vain to find silk and brocade like I bought in Kyoto. I everywhere received the answer that the cloth would have to be ordered first from Kyoto. In contrast I managed to enlarge the board menagerie with lovely white bantams - a full aviary - and enlarge it with one of the already rare cock with their tails of multiple meters in length. I also sent two very cute bears on board that soon became the darlings of the crew and learned in the shortest time to wait in place. Hopefully they arrive at our home healthy as they are intended to be the grace and live in the castle moat at Konopiste.

In the afternoon I wanted to be back in Tokyo and, to evade the lurking eyes of the police, sent Clam and Pronay directly to the capital where they too were festively received by a crowd of over a thousand people and a corresponding contingent of policemen, while I with Siebold exited at the next to last stop and entered Tokyo in rickshaws. The maneuver succeded too so that we could spend a few hours fully unrestricted and eat a dinner in a restaurant of the beautiful Ueno park.’

The Archduke’s travels

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1912
Reginald Marsh,
artist

‘Played part of a round of golf with Winton and did worse and better. Jack won the cup in the Junior tournament. I made a monkey out of a peach stone.

Pictures and vaudeville

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1939
Iris Murdoch,
writer

‘Well, we did put on a show - but only just. We didn’t know our lines (some of us), our costumes weren’t finished, & held together with pins, parts of the scenery were unpainted, & we had to cut out chunks of the programme because it was under-rehearsed. But we put on a show & what’s more they liked it! 'The whole day was a glorious nightmare of sewing on clips & fasteners & buttons & bells, & drawing innumerable magpies on innumerable sheets of paper for innumerable purposes. Hugh & I took half an hour off after lunch & walked up to the meadow where the horses were & talked about the Party. I was amazed when he told me he had been in only a few months & there was I imagining him an Old Bolshevik. Hugh is full of surprises.

He makes a very good dead Cuchulain in the ‘Lay of the Heads’, and even shewed great enthusiasm for the part!

We were supposed to have a ‘Dress & Lighting Rehearsal’ at 3.30, but of course it did not materialise. At 3.30 I was just beginning Joan’s ‘Queen o’ fairies’ dress, & the bulbs for the spotlights hadn’t come! About 5 Joan and Hugh & I went and lay on the grass exhausted & Joan did the Times crossword & moaned about the political situation. The papers seemed scared & I suppose a grave crisis is on but I can’t seem to feel any emotion about it whatsoever. This is such a strange, new, different, existence I'm leading, & so entirely cut off from the world.’

About 6 o/c we rehearsed Tam Lin & it was appalling. Denys, of course, nervous creature, went off the deep end, & said O I wish we weren’t doing this! But I tried to reassure him, privately thinking he was quite right.

Tom almost lost his temper several times during the afternoon - quite unheard of. But Joan was magnificent & sorted all the costumes out, & was sweet to us when we rushed about & said Joan, where is that cloak? Joan, where are my shoes. . .

And at 8 o’clock there we were, Joan & Moira & I singing the theme song & trembling all over. ‘Julius Caesar’ was on first, & Moira told me afterwards it was terrible. Victor had to be prompted every other line, & she sang her song wrong. Alas. Then we did Tam Lim and it went wonderfully, never better. And they liked it!

Denys was exultant. (Joyce said afterwards my arm movements were perfect & reminded her of Peggy Ashcroft! I like that girl Joyce, she says the right things.) ‘Broomfield Hill’ didn’t get across so well, tho’ Joan’s dress was splendid, like a young parachute.

‘Clydewa’er’ was the hit of the evening tho’, with Hugh compering, & doubled the House up in laughter. Joan gave a fine little introductory speech to the ‘Lay of the Heads’ & it went down amazingly well. No one laughed! ‘The Keys’ also went far better than I’d expected. Hugh filled all the sceneshifting intervals with a brilliant & endless stream of songs & patter which the audience loved. First he was American & sang cowboy songs, then he sang in Welsh, then Irish & Scottish songs. The production went moderately smoothly, with only one major blunder, when Joan was left sitting alone in the middle of the stage for 3 minutes in ‘Donna Lombarda’, while Joyce & I desperately jabbed Denys’s costume as full of safety pins as a porcupine is of quills. The ‘Play of the Weather’ went well, tho’ Cecil said it was ‘a shaggy performance, just hanging together, with everyone inventing their lines for themselves.’ I think some of the audience were shocked at the bawdier parts, tho’ the curate in the back row whom we’d fixed on as a test case, laughed heartily thro’out.

Well - that worst part is over. Tomorrow, to pack, & then onto the Road & away. Details, like lorries & portable pianos & car insurance, remain to be settled - but nought shall stay our triumphant flight. On Magpies, on!’

On Magpies, on!

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1970
Michael Palin,
comedian and writer

‘The last week has been spent filming in or around London, ending up at our traditional location - Walton-on-Thames - on Friday. It was less hot this time than in the past - I noticed this because for the last shot of the day I had to stand beside a fairly busy road clad in the It’s Man beard and moustache and a bikini. Next to me was John Cleese, also in a bikini.’

Cleese, also in a bikini

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Notes and Cautions
In general, these diary extracts are quoted as given in the published (book or online) source referred to in the reference articles. Each extract may be all, a large part of, or a small part of the complete entry for that day. I have tried to indicate where text has been removed from within a quote by the use of trailing dots in square bracket.

For any other use of these diary extracts other than browsing please refer to the original sources.

Any author, publisher or other copyright holder who takes the view that I am unacceptably breaching their copyright please let me know. I have tried to remain sensitive to copyright rules (using far fewer quotes, for example, when a book, by an author still alive, remains in print and popular), but it is not practical for me to seek authorisation for every quote and article, since I maintain these websites without any funding or advertis-ing. I take the view that publicity for the source books is a quid pro quo for my use of the extracts, but I am more than happy to remove the extracts if asked.

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The Diary Junction is one of those wonderful privately maintained public resources for which the Internet is justly celebrated: a database of information about celebrated and obscure diaries[over 500] from all historical periods, with referrals to the dates the diaries cover, where the originals are held and bibliographic information on published versions.’ Laura Miller, Salon

The Diary Review, hosted by Blogger, publishes magazine-style articles on diaries and diarists, several times a week. Now over ten years old, The Diary Review is the secondary source for the extracts in this online anthology.