And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

23 December

Abraham de la Pryme,

‘I heard this of my patron, that is just come from London, that the king, as he was going to Oxford, was told by one of his nobles (but upon what grounds it is uncertain) that his Majesty should be poison’d at Oxford, and desired him not to tast of any of their entertainment. Upon which, when he came to Oxford, he was exceedingly welcom’d, and carryed to the theater, which was full of gentry in all the gallerys, and there was a most splendid repast provided. But the king came in with his lords and nobles, and took a view of all, and having walked about for a while went out. As he was going out several of the mobb throng’d in, upon which the gentlemen in the gallerys hist at them; and the king, not understanding the meaning thereoff, thought they hiss’d at him, and took it very ill, until that the Chancellor and several of the heads of the university hearing thereoff went and told the king the true reason of their hissing.

A great many more things I could relate about the king’s being in the country, but I am very suspitious of them, therefore shall not set any of them down.’

Antiquities and highywaymen


Erik Larsson,

‘It was so cold that the oxen at our supply-wagon fell dead to the ground. The birds who tried to fly fell dead from the skies. Yes many will remember this day if he survives.’

Beautiful men were dead


David Hamilton,

‘And on the 23rd. repeated that he would not trouble her with any affairs till after Christmass, which shews how readilly he came in to keep her from disquiet and to act the part of a kind friend as well as a Minister of State.’

The spirit of millipedes


Edward Jenner,
doctor and scientist

‘Visited the Rev Mr J. At Frampton - found him not only anasarcous but affected with ascites - the Legs largely ulcerated -

Coal dust small qu: of Clay. Coal Tar - Mix or Brown Paper dippd in Coal dust & Coal Tar.’

The father of immunology


Gerard Manley Hopkins,

‘Yesterday morning I was dreaming I was with George Simcox and was considering how to get away in time to ring the bells here which as porter I had to ring (I was made porter on the 12th of the month, I think, and had the office for a little more than two months). I knew that I was dreaming and made this odd dilemma in my dream; either I am not really with Simcox and then it does not matter what I do, or if I am, waking will carry me off without my needing to do anything - and with this I was satisfied.’

Sunset of rosy juices


Thomas Hardy,

‘There is what we used to call ‘The Birds’ Bedroom’ in the plantation at Bockhampton. Some large hollies grow among leafless ash, oak, birch, etc. At this time of year the birds select the hollies for roosting in, and at dusk noises not unlike the creaking of withy-chairs arise, with a busy rustling as of people going to bed in a lodging-house; accompanied by sundry shakings, adjustings, and pattings, as if they were making their beds vigorously before turning in.

Death of old Billy C__ at a great age. He used to talk enthusiastically of Lady Susan O’Brien [the daughter of Lord Ilchester], who excited London by eloping with O’Brien the actor, as so inimitably described in Walpole’s Letters, and who afterwards settled in the Hardys’ parish as own; the third child’s face that of an angel; the fourth that of a cherub. The pretty one smiled on the second, and began to play “In the gloaming”, the little voices singing it. Now they were what Nature made them, before the smear of ‘civilization’ had sullied their existences. [An impression of a somewhat similar scene is given in the poem entitled ‘Music in a Snowy Street’.]

Rural low life may reveal coarseness of considerable leaven; but that libidinousness which makes the scum of cities so noxious is not usually there.’

White phantoms, cloven tongues


Lytton Strachey,

‘Shortly after Mama had left, as Dorothy and I were walking on the deck, we heard yells from the shore; we went to see what was the matter and found that it was a female in apparent histerics. Soon after we saw her boxes being taken off the ship. A little time after we had started there was rather a comotion on board, as the ship was blocked on all sides and could not pass. At last however we managed to get through all right into the lock - we soon were out speeding towards the Channel. We had dinner at half past six and sat at a side table. I sat at the corner nearest the port and Dorothy next me (on my right), next her sat a young man called Parry. At the end of the table was a young man called d’Alton he went in for being funny, he is very short and small, dark, with a very curly moustachio which he twirled with pride, he sings and plays well. Parry told Dodo all his private history, viz: that his parents had died and that he and his brother thought this was a good opportunity of taking a two years trip round the world. It was bitterly cold all day and we all huddled round the fire, one gent told anecdotes to pass away the time. Dodo wrote a letter to Mama and then we both went to bed, as we were going there 1 felt as if we were in the channel - which we were!’

Strachey's new biography


Sergei Prokofiev,

‘Scraped together my last remaining money (there’s not much left) and bought a cheque for £40 for Constantinople (cheques for Russia are unobtainable). Ilyashenko came to see me in the evening; he loves my music very much. I played to him until I dropped, so that he would take the greatest care of my letter and cheque.

Bought a ticket to go to Chicago and took $100 for expenses. After paying for the apartment there are $80 remaining in the bank account. Not much. If the Chicago concert doesn’t produce any profit, I’ll have to borrow from Kucheryavy.’

Finishing Three Oranges


Ned Rorem,

The Final Diary is merely a title, like Journal of the Plague Year or The Great American Novel. Which does not mean it’s fiction. (Fiction freezes my pen. The discipline of invention - that which is not fact, as I comprehend fact - eludes me.) For a fortnight JH [Jim Holmes] and I have been trimming the fat from this volume, fat being the truth that endangers. The book still seems bloated, for I’m as fond of my fat as an analysand is of his fears: with each slice I scream. Yet here’s a hundred deleted wounds to others and to myself, lascivious narratives, family daguerreotypes, puerile anecdotes and dirty linen. Precisely because they are “interesting” they will remain posthumous. Well, one must, at least in appearance, grow up sometime. For only children are punished. Thus only children are frightened. Alas, only children are worthwhile.’ [Last-but-one entry in the published volume]

Self-exposing massacre


Alan Clark,

‘Evening of the first day of the Christmas hols.

I don’t seem to have done anything except get rid of a lot of cash filling all the cars with petrol. And cash is so scarce over Christmas. Again and again one goes down to the bank to draw, always the last cheque until the New Year.

At tea time I wanted pliers. I could not find pliers. Nowhere in this whole fucking place, with its seventeen outhouses, garages, sheds, eighteen vehicles. After stealing tool kits from every car I’ve sold on over the last twenty-five years - could I find pliers?

I was screaming frail. I ransacked the china room, where I kept my most precious things. My new red vintage tool locker was empty, except for a lot of useless stuff for an Austin Heavy Twenty. Why? I am surrounded by unreliables.

I’ve done practically no shopping. How could I? When? Yet tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

As for the Dept, I never want to go through its doors again. Total shit-heap, bored blue. Strained and befuddled by all the paper work. Fuck them.

Fortunately, I’m dining with Ian on Wednesday next. I hope he gives me a boost.’

They are real diaries


Paul K. Lyons,

‘I spent more time at the Simon house, on Friday and Saturday. I had arranged for two book dealers to come and offer for the books; but neither of them were interested in making a real effort. One offered £400, and the other didn’t even bother offering once I’d told him we’d had an offer in the thousands (he even assumed it was only £1,000). I realised that the dealers who advertise regularly in yellow pages and the Ham & High are those who are looking for a quick buck, to make a killing, not real dealers prepared to put the time and effort into handling a large quantity of moderately-priced books. I’ve also done some research on the internet, mostly on a site called Biblion, where dealers can advertise their antiquarian books. I found, for example, examples of Picturesque Palestine (four volumes) sells for around £700 in good condition (Piers had signalled that this was one of the valuable books in the collection); and that a couple of books I brought home with me (first editions of a P.G. Wodehouse novel and one of a Bertrand Russel book) might be worth £30-50. In fact, there’s probably 100 or more first editions which could be worth £20 apiece - not to a dealer, but sale price. And I’m sure there’s a dozen or more books that are worth more, plus several hundred more which might be a worth a fiver each. Following my failure to get any higher offers, I expect the books will be sold to Piers. But we still have the problem of what to do with the Judaica (a 1,000 or so books on Jewish history, Palestine, Zionism etc). I’ve contacted a couple of dealers, at least one of whom believes he may have seen the collection some years ago; and I’m also trying to persuade Andrew we should consider auctioning them, but it would cost money to get an auctioneer out to evaluate them. Andrew’s gone out to Spain for Christmas, so the clearance is on hold for a while; I may get back involved to follow through with trying to dispose of the Judaica.’

How I saved the Balfour papers!


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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.