And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

1 February

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


Richard Hurrell Froude,

‘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


Gideon Mantell,
doctor and scientist

‘For the last fortnight, scarcely a day has passed without my time being engrossed by meetings concerning the project [Sussex] Scientific Institution [and Mantellian Museum] - I am already tired of the eternal changes of opinion which the gentlemen engaged in it, are constantly evincing. I see but too surely that I shall be made a mere stepping stone for the accomplishment of the principal object with most of them - a gossiping club.’

Gideon Mantell - geologist


Johann August Sutter,

‘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


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


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


Lytton Strachey, writer

1 February 1893

‘We got up at half past six, as we were supposed to arrive at Malta early in the morning. It was visible when we first came on deck and 1 could just see Valette with my spectacles. At about 8 a.m. we entered the harbour. And passed two men-of-war (turret ships) Malta looked handsome from the sea, but still I think I’d rather (be] in Gib as they say Malta is not so nice inside. Presently crowds of little boats made their appearance and swarmed round the ship’s side. The boats are called dissas, I don’t know how spelt but pronounced like that. We did not go on shore it was delicious on deck with the sun pouring down on us. At 11.30 we started, our band played marches etc., and was answered by the band in one of the men of war, then we played Auld Lang Syne and finished up with Blue Bonnets over the Border as we steamed away from Malta. It really was delightful to see the hankerchiefs waving, to feel the sun blazing, and to hear the band playing. There was a slight swell after dinner which got worse towards tea time. Felt rather ill at tea went to sleep on deck afterwards, woke up feeling rather cold, Uncle Charlie got my coat and rapped me up with Pat in a shawl, who was feeling rather bad, he could not come down to dinner as he felt too ill. Came up on deck after dinner, feeling all right. Pat had recovered also.’

Strachey's new biography


Thomas Cobden-Sanderson,

‘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


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


Edward Falaise Upward,
teacher and writer

‘Firewatching in the porter’s office office to-night. The rat-holed dado. String and keys and the bucket filled with damp coal dust. The coal-hole in the gothic turret. But my eye is stale. The complex telephone apparatus.

Prattle less in this book, if only to save paper. Think more.

Wd last night in the lab hut told of how he had been negotiating to buy the land on which it stands. The Co-op would not lend him the money but the Midland bank did. He is tenacious, pessimistic only in words. He got the hut against the opposition of most of his party. Now they hold the Fylde Divisional meetings there.

The substance of the sequel has I think passed the test. The problem now is the beginning.

Postage stamp the theme of the book. Imagination is needed to help action. But imagination is suspect because in the past it led away from action. But the present imagination is justified because it shows the faults of past imagination and shows the prime necessity for action.

Now don’t repeat that everywhere in this journal. It’s correct and the book must stand or fall by it.

If at the beginning he knows that imagination is needed then there’s no justification for the book.

“If only I cd use my imagination as I did in the past - but do so legitimately.”

He knows he wants to use his imagination; but he doesn’t know that he wd be justified in using it (i.e. that action needs it)?

Is that the initial position?’

Panic & muddleheadness


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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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.

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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.