And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

31 August

John Fletcher Moore,
civil servant and farmer

‘We have had much rain during all the last week and strong winds. Two blind sheep have been turned out daily for some time on the plain to graze; one of them was furnished with a bell, by the sound of which the other became accustomed to guide itself. Some days ago, the one with the bell was killed, and the other poor thing wandered about, went astray, and could not be found readily. James armed himself with the bell of the dead one, and went ringing through the bush. The lost one answered the signal immediately, and so we found a new way of catching sheep. Planted yesterday a number of cuttings of vine, peach, and fig trees. It is rather late, but I got them from the Governor’s garden, and will give them a chance. I have heard that the packing in which I was obliged to put my wool last year, went all to pieces at the Isle of France, in transhipping it. There are Indian gunny bags to be got here now at 7s. 6d. I am in doubt about buying, as I make sure of your sending some by the first vessel. When is it to arrive?’

Early days in west Australia


Ford Madox Brown,

‘Set to work about 12 till 2 & from 3 till 4 at the architecture. Rosetti called with Hunt, a clever young man.’

The might of genius


Laura Matilda Towne,

‘Aunt Phyllis wanted to go to church and is too feeble to walk, so Captain Hooper, aide-de-camp to General Saxton, gave her his seat in the carriage and jumped on behind himself. Harry stopped the horses. “Massa, my massa, don’t do dat!” he pleaded. Then he scolded and begged, and begged and scolded, while Aunt Phyllis sat still, saying she never rode in a “cheer” before. Captain Hooper was obdurate, and Harry had to drive on in deep dejection of mind and mortification of spirit.

To-night a Mr. Simmons, I think, who had been fighting in the Southern army upon compulsion, and who now belongs to the Maine regiment here, talked of his experiences when fighting his country. We heard him with amazement and disgust that grew more and more apparent, and when he said he had had a negro whipped, Ellen and I rose and left the table.’

First school for freed slaves


William Grant Stairs,

‘Six and a half hours of march to cover fifteen miles. We camp amidst the brush, tired beyond description and without water. Tomorrow we shall reach water after a two and a half hour march, but the following day there is a wasteland of fifteen miles to Rubuga. [. . .]

As we approach Tabora I fear increasingly the desertions of more of my men. These long marches without water terrify them and I sense that they would prefer to desert than to continue in such conditions. . . The hardships and the weariness cause me such endless cares. . . that I have become as thin as a rail and my cheekbones stand out in my face.’

Marches without water


John Churton Collins,
writer and literary critic

‘Fearful depression, sensation that I was worn out mentally, fearfully sleepy. What will become of my children if I get worse?’

I thought I was out of the woods


Jean Sibelius,

‘Don’t give in to tobacco or alcohol. Better to write rubbish in your “diary”. Confide your miseries to paper. In the long run it’s better so! Yes - in the long run.’

An inner confession


Thomas Cobden-Sanderson,

‘The Doves Press type was designed after that of Jensen; this evening I began its destruction. I threw three pages into the Thames from Hammersmith Bridge. I had gone for a stroll on the Mall, when it occurred to me that it was a suitable night and time; so I went indoors, and taking first one page and then two, succeeded in destroying three. I will now go on till I have destroyed the whole of it.’

Innumerable ripples; countless diamonds


Michael Macdonagh,

‘The London police, Metropolitain and City, are on strike. About 14,000 constables “came out” last night! Not a single policeman is on beat duty, and only a few on point duty controlling traffic! This is the amazing news of the day. The incredible, the inconceivable, the fantastic, certainly the unparalleled, has happened. Yet London, on the whole, is taking it quietly, so thin has our sense of surprise and astonishment been worn by the shocks of four years of war. [. . .] The men have gone on strike for three things - higher pay to meet the increased cost of living; official recognition of their Union; reinstatement of a constable who has been dismissed for this activity as an organiser of the Union. [. . .]

Drivers were free to go as they pleased, [. . .] There was an occasional tangle of omnibuses, taxicabs, motor-cars, carts and drays, but it quickly unwound itself, so desirous did every driver appear to be to give way to his fellows rather than to push ahead himself.

The centre of interest was Downing Street, where, at No 10, Lloyd George, the Prime Minister, was closeted with the leaders of the strike, endeavouring to reach a settlement. Many thousands of constables, all in civilian clothes, were assembled in Parliament Street and Whitehall awaiting the result. They had marched four abreast form the different police divisions. The traffic held itself up to let them pass. [. . .] In the long wait for the result of the conference, the temper of the crowd, strikers and spectators alike, was rising in antagonism. Not even the singing of popular songs by a striker with a fine voice, who was perched on the garden wall of 10 Downing Street, and the selection of airs played by two pipers of the Police Union were altogether successful in soothing this bad temper. [. . .]

The strike lasted just twenty-fours hours [Lloyd George agreed an increase in pay, and the reinstatement of the constable]. A queer business altogether. But it should have a lasting place in the social annals of the country for one reason, if no other - the proof it afforded of London’s ingrained respect for order and decorum. An outbreak of lawlessness had been feared. Not even a single shop was pillaged.’

The drama of London in WWI


Dorothy Dix,

‘Went by train to Valpariso [Valparaiso,] sea port of Santiago – City built into the side of the mountain, & streets so steep it makes you dizzy as you skid down them in a car – Drove down to Vina del Mar, one of the handsomest sea side places I ever saw - Gorgeous home[s] & a grand casino – Many of the wealthy Santiagans have their summer homes here –’

A day of adventure


Zorina Gray
, actress

‘Sat around again and filmed the ending of Juliet, where I had to execute sixteen fouettés six times from different angles - that makes ninety-six fouettés. Afterward my knees felt like macaroni.’

My knees felt like macaroni


Marielle Bennett,

‘Hear that Kilburn has been bombed. Stay in for first warning. I set off to meet a friend, but first took some old silver to a place where they buy metal for Spitfires, at first the man only offered me 2/3, I protested as it was 4 pieces. [. . .] Eventually we compromised and I took 9/-. I believe he would have gone to 10/- but I did not persuade him. He said he would lose over the deal. I bet he does!! He said he was going to close the shop next week as he does not like the raids and he thinks they are going on indefinitely. He was a lively old man and I liked him. he told me to get out of Hampstead on account of the Jewish refugees as Hitler would be after them. [. . .]

Met my best friend - an actress is who now married and just about to give birth. I am to be the godmother. We intended to go to coffee and then a doctor in Queen Anne’s Street, but we had just met when the warning went, as were in Evans, we sheltered there. Very comfortable. The first shelter I’ve been in. My friend varnished her nails most of the time [. . .]

Went to the Hollyrood and had two lagers. Telephoned another friend and then the sirens sounded again. We could not get back into the pub so we chased along Oxford Street to the Horseshoe where we went down the dive and had another and waited for the all clear. I went to the lavatory then, to find the attendant, a woman about 50, in an uproar. “Dirty swine, everyone ought to be killed, they are not fit to live. We ought to have killed them after the last war. Inhuman devils.” ’

The cost of stockings


Paul K. Lyons,

‘Adam has been to the Bank of England, and seen its gold, and held it in his hands. It’s very rare for anyone to get to do this, he tells me, and the last person was the Queen a few months ago. His minister has responsibility for the gold reserves, which is why he and Adam were there. In a few days, they go to Poland for a conference; then Adam goes to Spain for a week’s holiday. And then he starts his new job.’

The Queen and I


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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.

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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.