And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

28 August

Caroline Powys,

‘We set off to walk all round the environs of Matlock; ascended the rock call’d Matlock, 120 yards high; on each side a row of lofty elms, call’d the “Lover’s Walk.” We crossed the river Derwent in a boat kept for that purpose, and ascended by a winding path up the rocks to the finest natural terrace, call’d the Hay Rock, from whence you have a perpendicular view down a vast precipice to the river.’

Such interesting anecdotes


Simon Newcomb,

‘Started about sunrise, crossed a singular slough. Crossed a hard bottom covered knee deep with liquid black stagnant marsh mud, through which the men waded. Camped alongside an Indian or other circular mound 30 feet in diam[eter] & 4 high. Place is called Snake Hill, and the river Snake River.’

Crossed a singular slough


James Calhoun,
soldier writer

‘The General obtained two (2) porcupines. March 16 quarter miles. Arrived at Camp No. 47. Abundant supply of wood, water and grass.’ [Although this is the last of the diary entries, the diary is supplemented in the published book by Calhoun’s letters.]

Calhoun in the Black Hills


William Grant Stairs,

‘Tomorrow we must tirika: sleep in the bush without water . . . an eleven hour march almost twenty miles from here to the next water. A camp without water worries me, for on the following day, the men are good for nothing.’

Marches without water


John Churton Collins,
writer and literary critic

‘Complete collapse again - intense depression’

I thought I was out of the woods


Dorothy Shakespear,

‘Surely you & I, Ezra, are both dreams; we are (the) subjective existences of some man or other, who little knows that we have met & loved - we - (his) forms of his imagination! He (dreamt) formed you before he thought of me. You have had time to go (further) deeper into the Truth than I have been given.

But one day you & I met - all unbeknown to our Objective. We met in a blue, open, place - We saw each other’s hair & knew that we both loved the Sun. Later we loved each other as well. But now, the Objective has taken you to the other side of the world & he has forgotten me - left me behind.’

Are you a genius?


Ernst Jünger,
soldier and writer

‘This area was meadows and forests and cornfields just a short time ago. There’s nothing left of it, nothing at all. Literally not a blade of grass, not a tiny blade. Every millimeter of earth has been churned up and churned again, the trees uprooted and torn apart and ground to sludge. The houses shot to pieces, the bricks crushed into powder. The railway tracks turned into spirals, hills flattened, everything turned to desert. And everything full of corpses who have been turned over a hundred times. Whole lines of soldiers are lying in front of the positions, our passages are filled with corpses lying over each other in layers.’

Storm of Steel


Alex Babine,

‘A couple of bachelors have been poisoning cockroaches in their kitchen with arsenic. They threw the dead insects into the yard, upon which their neighbors’ chickens died one after another. “Don’t worry about our being suspected,” quoth the younger of the two: “I’ve already thrown a quiet hint that our Jewish neighbors must have done it.” ’

Jailed for making soap


Zorina Gray,

‘The whole day on the set - tried on clothes, shoes, sandals, ballet shoes, stockings, tights, etc. - then all we did was the balcony scene and the kiss between Romeo and Juliet. We were both so nervous that our lips trembled. Dinner with George. He showed me his techni-film - excellent. [Balanchine had his own camera and made his own film during our actual filming on the set.] Then we talked and talked - he is so dear.’

My knees felt like macaroni


Peter Pears,

‘Saturday, the day of our departure. Our three weeks in this lovely and - now - sunny valley, where we have been spoiled by everyone, had to exact one boring duty before we left, and instead of spending our last morning with Gilbars and her puppies, or baking on the balcony, or finding a new wild-flower (I found an orchid, but not a very beautiful one, I thought), we had to listen to an endless tape of an Armenian composer, Edgar Oganessian, the director of the theatre in Erevan. Pretentious, bombastic, rhetorical, with minimal ideas and a maximal display of pseudo-energy, listening to it in a fairly comfortable chair paralysed one’s hind-quarters and made every muscle contract with bored fury. We got quickly away and solaced ourselves at an early lunch with what we call Moscow-mineral-water, i.e. vodka (water in Russian is voda, without the k). Farewell kisses to all, the chauffeur, the manager (Marcel), our superb cook, Hadjik, who had cried with indignation at the idea of a tip, our little nut brown cleaner who had not been kissed by a man for 25 years, I think, and off we had to go to Yrevan and the Britten Festival.’

Peter Pears centenary


David Sedaris,

‘Paris. Shannon called to tell me I’m at number nine. This makes fifty-two weeks - a year on the Times paperback list. While she was very excited and congratulatory, the news left me slightly embarrassed, the way you feel when you’ve stayed too long at the party and notice your hosts looking at their watches. The hosts, in this case, are all the superior writers whose books haven’t sold more than a few thousand copies. On the bright side, I think I can write something much better than Me Talk Pretty. And if it fails and no one buys it, I can really feel good about myself.’

Sedaris gets the call


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And so made significant . . .
is the world’s greatest online anthology of diary extracts. It is presented in the same way as popular books like The Assassin’s Cloak and The Faber Book of Diaries, i.e. by calendar day, but contains more, and many longer, extracts than is possible in published books. Moreover, for each quoted extract there’s a link to a Diary Review article with some or all of the following: further extracts, biographical information, contexts, a portrait, and links to online sources/etexts. Furthermore, new extracts are added on a regular basis.

in diary days



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.

SITE DEVISED by Paul K Lyons

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.