And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

30 December

Gilles de Gouberville,

‘[Pinchon] to take the Indian leather to make the soles of my boots, mules and slippers. . . . Sunday, jour des Rois, before I went to mass, servants arrived from Lagarde at Valognes, bringing me my boots, mules and slippers made from the leather I had given them. For red leather for the tops of my boots and for cork for the mules and slippers and for the making: 28 sols and 5 sols that I gave them for wine.’

I distrust the miller


Ralph Josselin,
priest and farmer

‘Spent some time in prayer at Mr Cresseners, the Lord good to mee yr in; about yt time at London, Dr Pullein’s busines was put to that issue, that if ye Earl of Oxford would stand by his present- acon of Dr Pullein, he might come into his living; the Lords name bee praised for this kindnes, the issue is in thy hand, oh Father.’

A boisterous yeare


John Thomlinson,

‘B Haddon sent me some apples, an orange, and a bottle of gooseberry wine to be drunk at Christopher’s. Uncle said he would be afraid to marry me into that family (i.e., Colingwood’s), I should gett into such a nest of drinkers at this time, etc.’

In search of a rich wife


Return J. Meigs,

‘This morning, between the hours of 1 and three o’clock in the morning, our train threw into the city about 30 shells, which produced a number of shells and a brisk cannonade, which continued all the day. As it had been determined to make an attack upon the city, the ladders being ready, and the weather stormy, which was thought best for our purpose, the troops are ordered to parade at two o’clock to-morrow morning.’

Battle of Quebec


Caroline Powys,

‘We have now confined ourselves fifteen weeks with our dear son Philip, nor paid one visit but of a morning. You have not heard of his unfortunate journey here, as his tedious illness was owing to that. I’ve often told you what a good young man he is, and that he always chooses to be with us in the country except the four days at a time when he is upon guard. On the 15th September we had a letter to say he would come down the next day, as he believed something had flown in his eye as he was walking in the Park, and it gave him great uneasiness. He had shown it to the surgeon of his regiment, who said he would bleed him in the morn, gave him a cooling mixture, and desired him to go into the country; not on horseback, but in a chaise, keeping his eye from the air, and it would soon be well. All this was done; but it being a very dark, rainy evening, that, tho’ the postboy and himself knew the road perfectly through our wood, they lost it, and found themselves in a horse-way of Mr. Freeman’s, near the root-house, where they knew there were many pits. Phil got out; they put the horses behind, and with much difficulty dragg’d the chaise down again into the coach-road; but he had not gone above ten minutes when he was overturn’d over a stump. The chaise, glasses, &c., were now broke. They did not attempt to raise it, but each took a horse, and at last reach’d home, and found they had been about an hour and a half in the wood, when twenty minutes is the usual time! Poor Phil went immediately to bed, being greatly fatigued, and the pain in his eye vastly increased, as he had lost his bandage, and his arm, too, had bled again; in short, he was a most miserable object, and gave us all infinite anxiety, and for many days the inflammation increased. He was in too much pain to return to London, but fortunately a Mr. Davenport, an eminent surgeon, has bought an estate near Marlow, and retired from town, and he was so kind as to come immediately, and has order’d our surgeon here how to proceed, and is so good as to come to him every two or three days. He now mends amazingly, as all the faculty tell us. Time and warm weather only can make a perfect cure; but as for many weeks we were apprehensive for the sight, we are most thankful. ... It is hardly possible to imagine with what fortitude he bears the sufferings he has gone through, though he has not since the accident tasted a bit of meat or drunk a drop of wine, had a perpetual blister ever since, and blooded every three or four days for many weeks. His health is certainly better than even I knew it, most probably from the discipline, some of which might be necessary for a young man in full health with a good appetite, and who never minds over-heating himself in shooting, cricket, &c.

Truly, Mr. Powys’ enduring this treatment was a survival of the fittest!’

Such interesting anecdotes


Mirza Abul Hassan Khan,

‘After dinner we went to the Opera, which is a grand theatre like nothing I have seen before; it has seven magnificent tiers, all decorated in gold and azure, and hung with brocade curtains and paintings. [This was the King’s Theatre in Haymarket, the largest theatre in England at the time. It burnt down in 1867, and was replaced with another, which was demolished a few decades later to be replaced by Her Majesty’s Theatre, built in 1897, which is still extant.]

Dancers and sweet-voiced singers appeared one after the other to entertain us, acting and dancing likes Greeks and Russians and Turks. Their music and songs banished sorrow from the hearts of the audience. It is amazing that although 5,000 people may gather in the theatre, they do not make a loud noise - when they enjoy a song they clap their hands together; if they think the singing bad, they say ‘hiss’.’

I was utterly amazed!


George Brinton McClellan,

‘Started soon after daybreak minus the infantry who were not ready. Joined advanced guard, where Selby raised a grand scare about some Indians who were lying in ambush at a ravine called “los tres palos” in order to attack us. When we reached the ravine the guard halted and I rode on to examine it and look for the Indians - I found a bad ravine but no Indians.

On this same day the Major commanding the rear guard (Waterhouse, of the Tennessee Cavalry) was told by a wagonmaster that the advanced guard was in action with the Mexicans. The men, in the rear guard, immediately imagined that they could distinguish the sound of cannon and musketry. The cavalry threw off their saddle bags and set off at a gallop - the infantry jerked off their knapsacks and put out - Major and all deserted their posts on the bare report of a wagonmaster that the advance was engaged. A beautiful commentary this on the “citizen soldiery.” Had we really been attacked by 500 resolute men we must inevitably have been defeated, although our column consisted of 1700 - for the road was narrow - some men would have rushed one way, some another - all would have been confusion and all, from the General down to the dirtiest rascal of the filthy crew, would have been scared out of their wits (if they ever had any).

Our 100 infantry dodged off before we had done much work, and our own men did everything. We reached Encinal about 4 P. M. after a march of about 17 miles, and almost incessant labor at repairs. It was on this day that General Patterson sent back Brigadier General Pillow to tell Second Lieutenant Smith to cut down a tree around which it was impossible to go!!’

McClellan’s war in Mexico


Alfred Doten,

‘I got a little keg today of about a quart of fresh Baltimore oysters just arrived per railroad yesterday, packed in ice with about 20 others - got them of Hatch Bros this morning $1.75 per keg - about 100 oysters . . . we had them for supper, both stewed and raw - The first good and fresh ones . . . I have yet had - Just as nice as they were when first out of the shell . . .’

Plenty of ladies at the ball


Lady Aberdeen,

‘Photograph of all our party taken this morning on garden steps - first in furs & then in blanket coats by Topley. Luncheon at 12 then off with children to Assault at Arms given by Governor-General’s Foot-Guards at Opera House. This regiment a militia regiment which excites Capt. Kindersley’s ire inasmuch as it has adopted a uniform v. nearly resembling the Coldstream Guards. One man, Sergeant-Major Morgans, an old soldier from home did wonderful sword feats cutting a piece of lead two inches thick right through with one blow - cutting a stick hung on two loops of paper, suspended on two razors without cutting the paper & so on - a good deal of fencing & sword & bayonet encounters which greatly amused children.’

God save the Queen


Charles Graves,

‘London is a city on its feet, but not out on its feet. In fact, it’s on its toes. This meant, however, that I had to walk all the way to Leicester Square before I was lucky enough to get a taxi to take me home. The queues for the Holborn Tube Station extended along Kingsway as far as Bush House. At every normal bus stop there were crowds of people waiting for omnibuses that were never going to appear. I should have thought the police might have told them.’

A hell of a night


Fred Bason,

‘As we draw towards the close of this year there are 2 items I must put into my Diary which seem to have no headings but mustn’t be left out. Both are pleasant. If I was to be asked who are my favourite actors I would say with no hesitation Alec Clunes Marius Goring and Noël Coward. Well, now, diary, Alec Clunes sent 2 nice circle seats to me so that I could take Lizzie to see him in Carrington V.C. at the Westminster Theatre. Then out of the blue (and I mean just that) Marius Goring sent a stall seat for me to see Anthony and Cleopatra in which he was the star. Its really astounding when you come to think of it. In 2 days 2 stars send tickets and I would bet that neither knew the other was sending (thats if Alec has ever met Marius). Its what can be called a million to one odds. And what did Mr Noel Coward do? Mr Coward don’t have to do anything except keep alive.

The second (or third) unexpected joy is an invitation to attend the Chelsea Arts Ball as a guest of the management! James Agate once said to me: ‘When you make the grade, Fred, your trouble will not be where to go but where not to go. You will be given free seats and invitations here and there. Look for the catch. There is usually a catch in free gifts and they are not really free.’

Well, dear James, I’m getting up in the grade. But I am sure that in the seats to shows for Marius and Alec and The Arts Ball invite from Loris Rey there is no catch at all. Therefore I feel I must include these happy items at the close of an eventfull happy (on the whole) year.’

The Loud Bassoon


Return J. Meigs,

‘[. . .] I now come to Col. Arnold’s division, which was to proceed to the attack in the following manner. A lieutenant and 30 men were to march in front, as an advanced guard; then the artillery company, with a field piece mounted on a sled; then the main body, of which Capt. Morgan’s company was first. The advanced party were to open when arrived near the battery, which was raised upon a wharf, which we were obliged to attack in our way; and when our field piece had given them a shot or two, the advanced party were to rush forward, with the ladders, and force the battery above mentioned, while Capt. Morgan’s company was to march round the wharf, if possible, on the ice. But the snow being deep, the piece of artillery was brought on very slow, and we were finally obliged to leave it behind; and, to add to the delay, the main body were led wrong, there being no road, the way dark and intricate, among stores, houses, boats, and wharves, and harrassed at the same time with a constant fire of the enemy from the walls, which killed and wounded numbers of our men, without our being able to annoy them in the least from our situation. The field piece not coming up, the advanced party, with Captain Morgan’s company, attacked the battery, some firing into the port holes or kind of embrasures, while others scaled the battery with ladders, and immediately took possession of it, with the guard, consisting of 30 men. This attack was executed with so much despatch, that the enemy only discharged one of their cannon. In this attack we lost but one or two men, the enemy lost about the same number. In the attack of this battery, Col. Arnold received a wound in one of his legs, with a musket ball, and was carried to the General Hospital. [. . .]

His honor, Brigadier-General Montgomery was shot through both his thighs and through his head. His body was taken up the next day. An elegant coffin was prepared, and lie was decently interred the next Thursday after. 

I am informed that when his body was taken up, his features were not in the least distorted, but his countenance appeared regular, serene, and placid, like the soul that late had animated it.

The General was tall and slender, well limbed, of genteel, easy, graceful, manly address. He had the voluntary love, esteem, and confidence of the whole army.

His death, though honourable, is lamented, not only as the death of an amiable, worthy friend, but as an experienced, brave general, whose country suffers greatly by such a loss at this time. The native goodness and rectitude of his heart might easily be seen in his actions. His sentiments, which appeared on every occasion, were fraught with that unaffected goodness, which plainly discovered the goodness of the heart from whence they flowed.

In the afternoon the officers were confined in the Seminary, and well accommodated with bedding. The soldiers were confined in the Recollets, or Jesuits' College. I dined this day with Capt. Law, the principal engineer, whom in the morning I made prisoner, but in a few hours I was, in my turn, made prisoner. Capt. Law has treated me with great politeness and ingenuity. In my return from Capt. Law’s quarters, I called at the house of Mr. ___ Munroe, who politely invited me to live at his house, if I could have permission.’

Battle of Quebec


Paul K. Lyons,

‘I am reading Roy Jenkins diary of the period when he was President of the European Commission. This was a Quick Choice from the library when I was there last week; but I am pleased to have it. Not only does it give me an added insight into the workings of the Commission at the highest level but it is a document of considerable importance - not so many diaries are published by such senior politicians. It has been likened to that of Anthony Crosland which, I remember, finding fascinating. I do not find Jenkins fascinating. Despite going to some lengths to tell us how much material he has cut out from the five years of diary entries, and how difficult it was, the diary is still weighed down by an extraordinary obsession with time-keeping, the length of meetings and speeches, and the weather. It reads like my teenager diary, but whereas I catalogued TV programmes, whether an evening was good or not, which teacher had been horrid or helpful, and what the food was like, his reads like a catalogue of visits, whether a meeting was good or not, whether other diplomats or politicians had been helpful or a hindrance, and what the food was like. There are occasional descriptions of places, and pithy character sketches and occasionally he goes into some detail about the issues. Most space seems to be given to the most important leaders, thus Jenkins devotes a page or two to meetings with Schmidt or Giscard, while most entries have been paired down to half a page or less. I think he is coming across as rather a snooty man (even though he goes out of his way to let us know that he doesn’t always dress to form).’

A fairly burdensome exercise


William Burroughs,

‘Reading New Yorker, July 31, 1995, account of “firestorms” in Hamburg occasioned by Allied bombing. (They don’t need an Atom bomb.) Then Dresden, to break German morale. The result was history’s second major firestorm. Like I say, top people in USA and England were such shits as you can’t believe.

What is left in these minds? Very little of value to me or anyone I can relate to. “All my relations,” as the Indians say. Like the drug anti’s in Malaysia say: “dealers are not human to him.’ And he - Mohathir Mohamed, Prime Minister - is not human to me. I curse him with my whole heart. There is nothing in him I feel for, or with.

Same goes for the firestorm impresarios.

So as this inglorious chapter in the USA draws to a dreary close with Clinton squeaking like the rat he turned out to be, that [in] Arizona and California together courts [are] quasi-legalizing marijuana for medical or any other purpose. . .

You must mark it to its place. It is an ILLEGAL drug and by illegal, beyond question.’

Beat writer‘s last months


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And so made significant . . .
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Why Ever Did I Want to Write is a patchwork of themed stories about one man’s early life, embracing highs and lows but driven by a desire to make the most of being alive, to experience, to feel, and above all to understand. Reminiscent of Karl Knausgaard’s A Death in the Family and Theodore Zeldin’s An Intimate History of Humanity, this memoir, often based on diaries, sees Lyons reflecting on a repressed childhood, exploring the world through years of travelling, and searching for meaning and excitement in the arts and love affairs – an archetype of the counterculture in the 1970s and 1980s.

Not a Brave New World is an extraordinary fictional memoir, a trilogy in three wives, spanning the whole of the 21st century: one man’s - Kip Fenn’s - frank account, sometimes acutely painful and sometimes surprisingly joyful, of his three partners, and his career in international diplomacy working to tackle the rich-poor divide.

GILLIAN - Book 1 - Amazon (US/UK)
Kip Fenn’s first love is in a coma. His father suddenly isn’t his father. After formative trips to Brussels and Brazil, Kip wins a civil service job. Unfortunately, a media baron discovers his sexual weakness and is blackmailing him for government secrets. If only Kip could find solace in his wife’s arms or joy in his children.

DIANA - Book 2 - Amazon (US/UK)
Kip Fenn is a success: his career has taken off within a major UN agency trying to spread wealth from the rich to the poor. But all is not well with the world - the golden age of oil and chips is now over, and unsustainable development is leading to social turmoil, and to world war. Kip has found love and a new family, but he can find no way to stop his older children self-destruct; nor does he realise his partner’s deceit.

LIZETTE - Book 3 - Amazon (US/UK)
Third time lucky - Kip Fenn finds true love. His UN career though is ending with a whimper. Another terrible war is cut short by the devastating Grey Years, and while nations rebuild many individuals turn Notek. In restless retirement, Kip’s lifelong passion for vintage photos sees him launching a new arts institution. But who is the mysterious visitor by his bedside, and how will she affect his planned deathday?


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.