And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

23 December

1695
Abraham de la Pryme,
antiquary

‘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

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1706
Erik Larsson,
soldier

‘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

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1869
Gerard Manley Hopkins,
poet

‘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

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1919
Sergei Prokofiev,
composer

‘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

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1972
Ned Rorem,
composer

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

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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, usually several every week. The blog has been publishing for over five years, and is the secondary source for the diary extracts in this online anthology.