And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

4 December

Ralph Jackson,

‘This day my Seventh years Bond expires allowing the Eleven days also for the Alteration of the Stile in 1752 [change in the calendar]. I went with Mr Ord to Mr Winds in Pilgrom Street & bespoke a Supp: for Seven of my Acquaintances against Monday night first. I finish’d copying out my Masters Cash Book into that I keep. I walk’d to Elswick with the two Miss Hudspeths & Miss Meuris where we drank Tea, this is my foye with them.’

Apprentice Hostman and squire


Benjamin Haydon,

‘I am married! Ah, what a crowd of feelings lie buried in that little word. I cannot write or think for the present. I thank God for at last bringing me to the arms of the only creature that ever made my heart burn really, & I hope he will bless me with health & understanding & means to make her happy & blessed. Dearest, dearest Mary - I cannot write.’

Thirst after grandeur


Pierre-Joseph Proudhon,

‘I rise at 5.30 in the morning: I have had a feverish and inflammatory sleep, with intolerable beating of the arteries. . . If I were free, I would bury myself under the ruins of the Republic with her faithful citizens, or else I would go to live far from a land unworthy of liberty.4

The father of anarchism


William Sydney Clements,

‘Leave Lough Rynn at 7.30 a.m. Arrived Manorhamilton at 1 p.m. Received rents. At night a tar barrel was burned and a band played through the town to greet my arrival.’

Splinters fell on me


Ethel Turner,

‘Lil and I went to Bronte for a bathe. I think I shall take some lessons, I can't swim well and can’t dive properly. In afternoon did some cooking. Mother went to a meeting to Naval Home Bazaar and had a long talk with Indy Scott, who she says is very nice and unaffected.’

Seven Little Australians


Anton Chekhov,

‘For the performance [of The Seagull] on the 17th October see Theatral, No 95, page 75. It is true that I fled from the theatre, but only when the play was over. In L’s dressing room during two or three acts. During the intervals there came to her officials of the State Theatres in uniform, wearing their orders, P_ with a Star; a handsome young official of the Department of the State Police also came to her. If a man takes up work which is alien to him, art for instance, then, since it is impossible for him to become an artist, he becomes an official. What a lot of people thus play the parasite round science, the theatre, the painting, - by putting on a uniform! Likewise the man to whom life is alien, who is incapable of living, nothing else remains for him, but to become an official. The fat actresses, who were in the dressing- room, made themselves pleasant to the officials - respectfully and flatteringly. (L expressed her delight that P, so young, had already got the Star.) They were old, respectable house-keepers, serf-women, whom the masters honored with their presence.’

I fled from the theatre


Josephus Daniels,
politician and businessman

‘Pres. spoke to Congress. No tickets for wives of cabinet officers. Sinnot sent one to my wife & Ethel took her place. She was in Savannah speaking on Y.W.C.A.

W W looked serious, confident, compelling. He had given much thought to his message - read it deliberately & calmly, letting its logic and strength make all the impression. It was received with marked approval & evoked enthusiasm. After delivery we discussed it at cabinet meeting - all gave warm commendation. W W seemed relieved & was plainly pleased at its reception.

Because of Roberts College & such institutions he hoped we would not have to declare war upon Turkey, but must be prepared for any eventualities. He wished a plebiscite on Alsace & Lorrain[e], Suggested that many who had owned & still owned land should be entitled to vote. Not certain all wish to go to France. Children still speak German. Wished to let world know we stand for no such treaties as would call for land or money beyond repairing Belgium and Northern France.

More rooms needed by Departments.

Spent evening reading spotted record of E. D. Ryan whom Vance McCormick and Mitchell wished made Admiral I had almost promised to do it, but could not after reading

Represt-of Chili [Chile] here to buy RR engines & cars. Can we trade & get ships from Chili.’

Secretary to the Navy


Aniela Strakacz,

‘This has been a red-letter day at the League because today Paderewski addressed the delegates. All week the League‘s secretariat had been besieged with requests for passes for this occasion.

Long before he was scheduled to speak, every seat on the floor was taken and the spectators gallery was jammed with standees.

At last, Paderewski came up on the platform - a leonine figure radiating moral strength. Accustomed though I am to seeing him, my heart skipped a beat. The audience rose in a spontaneous gesture of welcome and burst into loud and long applause. Paderewski acknowledged the tribute with a dignified low bow and waited for the ovation to subside. From the first minute of his speech, the audience was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. For more than an hour Paderewski addressed this assemblage of the world’s greatest diplomats in French without notes and held them as spellbound as if he were playing Chopin for them. When he finished, he received another ovation lasting several minutes. Then, to everyone’s undisguised astonishment, Paderewski launched into an English version of his own speech. He’s the only delegate who has perfect command of both languages.

The meeting was adjourned following Paderewski’s bilingual performance. To have any other speakers after him would only have been an anticlimax. Delegates and spectators gathered in knots in the corridors to exchange comments about the oration they’d just heard.

What the President’s appreciative audience did not know was how hard he had worked to make this - and, as a matter of fact, every speech of his - the masterpiece of clear thinking and brilliant verbal form that it was. Time ceases to exist for Paderewski when he is in the throes of composing a speech. If he works on it during the day, lunch or dinner are hours late. Nobody dares interrupt the President. So we all wait mournfully, stealing a snack as best we can, for none of us would dream of sitting down to a meal without him. Sometimes we wait so long that lunch practically runs into dinner. Woe to the guest who has been invited for such a day - he must wait with the rest of us.

When the President writes at night, he often works until the small hours of the morning. At such times we, too, go without sleep because nobody retires without bidding Paderewski good night. We all stay up, even Mme. Paderewska and her secretaries. Before the President finally goes to bed, he and Sylwin still have to play a game of cribbage.

Sylwin yawns scandalously but plays; I’m generally so sleepy I’m groggy; only Paderewski shows no sign of fatigue and never yawns.

After he writes out his speech, the President commits it to memory word for word. For the meeting of the League of Nations today he accomplished the prodigious feat of memorizing two speeches, one in French and one in English.’

Bubbling over with fun


Henry Fountain Ashurst,

‘A snowstorm of Arctic ferocity has fallen upon the Navajo Indian Reservation in Northern Arizona. Many Navajo Indians have perished in the snowdrifts or frozen in the frosts.

I spent the day at Indian Bureau in arranging relief for them.’

A kindly and witty diarist


Joseph Goebbels,

‘In Italy the enemy has started new assaults on our front. They have succeeded here and there in making inroads. But considerable reserves of ours are on the march, so that people in the Fuehrer’s G.H.Q. are not worrying about further developments. The operations are chiefly under Jodl’s command. But Jodl does not seem to me any too competent at evaluating a critical military situation. He has so often been wrong in his prognoses that personally I am unable to drop my worries about the southern Italian front.’

The Nuremberg ten


Robin Cook,

’Began the day with a visit to Jack Straw at the Foreign Office to make my peace. The Secretary of State’s room has reverted to tradition. My examples of the best of British design have gone from the bookcase which has once again gone back to sleep with a collection of leather-bound early Hansards which no one will ever read.

I began by getting my apology in first. “Look, I’m sorry that I snapped at you at the Cabinet. But what’s important to me now is that we quit the argument as to who saw the document first and who got the document too late, and get on with agreeing on a package for modernisation.” Jack was generous in accepting the apology. “I have now had a chance to read the paper and it does have a lot of good ideas. I’ll make a point of writing in to support the revised version.” ’

Point of departure


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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.