And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

1 February

1724
John Byrom,
poet and landowner

‘This day (being Saturday) I did for the first time advertise my shorthand in the Evening Post, and the writer of that paper made a mistake of Byron for Byrom, and from this time I design to take notice of any thing that shall happen in relation to it.’

Byrom’s universal shorthand

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1826
Richard Hurrell Froude,
priest

‘Oxford. All my associations here are bad, and I can hardly shake them off. All the old feelings I have been trying to get rid of, seem revived: particularly vanity and wandering of mind. I do not really care for any of their opinions; and I will try to act as if “I had root in myself.” I will try to do steadily what I ought to do; and, as far as I can control the impulse of the moment, will never let a desire to obtain their good opinion be the motive of any of my slightest actions.

I ought to spend an hour at Bp. Butler, or Lloyd, and an hour at Greek Testament, two hours at Greek classics, one hour at Latin, and as much time more as I can about my prize, &c.’

I have been relapsing

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1848
Johann August Sutter,
mill owner

‘Left for the Sawmill attended by a Baquero (Olimpio). Was absent 2d, 3d, 4th, & 5th. I examined myself everything and picked up a few Specimens of Gold myself in the tail race of the Sawmill; this Gold and others which Marshall and some of the other laborers gave to me (it was found while in my employ and Wages) I told them that I would a Ring got made of it soon as a Goldsmith would be here. I had a talk with my employed people all at the Sawmill. I told them that as they do know now that this Metal is Gold, I wished that they would do me the great favor and keep it secret only 6 weeks, because my large Flour Mill at Brighton would have been in Operation in such a time, which undertaking would have been a fortune to me, and unfortunately the people would not keep it secret, and so I lost on this Mill at the lowest calculation about $25,000.’

Sutter’s Gold Rush

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1886
Elizabeth Lee,
young woman

‘Fine day. The railway under the Tunnel was opened for traffic today and I went to L’pool by it. I went up in the ‘lift’ when I got to L’pool and there was such a frightful crush to get it. Had a good look round L’pool and came back by train. Such a lot of gentleman in the station. It was so jolly but I got nearly squashed to death.’

A jolly double tricycle ride

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1890
Beatrice Webb,
economist and social reformer

‘London is in a ferment: strikes are the order of the day, the new trade unionism with its magnificent conquest of the docks is striding along with an arrogance rousing employers to a keen sense of danger, and to a determination to strike against strikes. The socialists, led by a small set of able young men (Fabian Society) are manipulating London Radicals, ready at the first check-mate of trade unionism to voice a growing desire for state action.’

Webbs on the Web

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1909
Thomas Cobden-Sanderson,
craftsman

‘I was at Kew on Saturday, and walked through the flower-house; lilies, lilac, azaleas, camellias, carnations, all, and others in sweet flower; and around them, outside, the bare dreaming trees, whose time is yet to come.

On Sunday afternoon, yesterday, Mrs Pankhurst called. She was gentle and affectionate, but, as it seemed to us all, tired. The prison immurement seemed to have damped her fire. [. . .] This is an odious result of prison, and an argument against its use as a weapon of revolt. Annie must not go again.’

Innumerable ripples; countless diamonds

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1928
Henri Michaux,
writer and artist

‘No, I have already said it elsewhere. This earth has had all the exoticism washed out of it. If in a hundred years we have not established contact with some other planet (but we will), or, next best, with the earth’s interior, humanity is finished. There is no longer a means of living, we explode, we go to war, we perpetrate evil of all sorts; we are, in a word, incapable of remaining any longer on this rind. We are in mortal pain; both from the dimensions as they now stand, and from the lack of any future dimension to which we can turn, now that our tour of the earth has been done to death. (These opinions, I know, are quite sufficient to have me looked down upon as a mind of the fourth order.) ’

Washed out exoticism

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1959
Noel Coward,
writer and performer

‘I have a charming suite here [at the Ritz hotel] and I much prefer it to the Dorchester. It is Edwardian in feeling and quiet and I have a brass ‘pineapple’ bed which makes me feel rather like the late Mrs George Keppel. I have definitely decided to do the Graham Greene film with Alex Guinness and Ralph Richardson. I have had two lunches with Carol [Reed, director of Our Man in Havana], who is treating me en prince. In fact in London this time I am definitely ‘hot’. Every time I go out I am beset with by reporters and photographers.’

A glittering occasion

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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.