And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

11 February

1792
Axel von Fersen,
soldier and diplomat

‘Left at 9:30 without my servant and with Reutersvard in the courier’s coach. We carried couriers’ passports for Portugal issued in fictitious names as well as letters addressed to the Queen of Portugal and the Memorandum from the King (of Sweden) to the King of France. I had put everything together with a false code key into an envelope of the Swedish Embassy in Paris and had also forged the King’s signature; a further envelope was addressed to our chargé d’affairs Bergstedt and everything was sealed with the Swedish great seal manufactured here. For the sake of safety I also carried credentials appointing me Ambassador to the Queen of Portugal. At eight o’clock we reached Tournay where we stayed overnight.’

For the love of Marie

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1917
Maurice Hankey
, civil servant

‘Had a brain wave on the subject of anti-submarine warfare, so ran down to Walton Heath in the afternoon to formulate my ideas to Ll. George, who was very interested. I sat up late completing a long Memo, on the subject. My Memo, was an argument for convoys, but contained a great number of suggestions.’

Dreadful meetings

**************************************************************************************

1924
Siegfried Sassoon,
writer

‘Have been reading a book about ‘Perdita’ Robinson - light historical journalese - which has made me feel the futility of the ‘epigrammatic elegies’ I’ve sweated at since January 21. Of those fifty-one pieces scarcely half-a-dozen now seem tolerable. I suppose the Chatterton sonnet is all right (I sent it to Gosse, who thought it ‘very beautiful’). But most of the fifty-one short pieces are mere trivial scribbles - a parlour game. But I suppose I have picked up some smatterings of history from the D.N.B.

Heavens! what fortitude one needs, to become a decent writer. One runs madly through green thickets, enamoured of the bird-notes which last but a few moments; one stumbles, picks oneself up, and emerges into a barren waste; one ruminates miserably for a while, dragging desolate feet through the dust of dead dreams. And then, if one is lucky, one plunges into another fool’s paradise of ‘poetry’. And at the end, perhaps, one will meet death with half-a-dozen ‘immortal’ lines scribbled on half-a-sheet of note-paper. Lucky is he who does that!’

A fool’s paradise of poetry

**************************************************************************************

1944
Denton Welch,
writer and artist

‘This evening I bicycled to Penshurst. I climbed up the hill easily because I was with a man who worked at the railway and he talked all the time about the last war.

At the top, he said good-bye and I went on, on, down the hill past a soldier and the old neurotic home, ‘Swaylands’, which is now a military hospital. Two idle loosely hanging soldiers stood at the lodge waiting for something to be brought to them. They looked at me lazily and curiously as I sped past . . .

Nothing can make up for the fact that my very early youth was so clouded with illness and unhappiness. I feel cheated as if I never had that fiercely thrilling time when the fears of childhood have left one and no other thing has swamped one. The cheek is plump and smooth, the eye and the teeth are bright and one feels that one would lie down and die if these first essentials were ever taken away . . .

When I passed the ‘Fleur de Lys’ at Leigh, again I thought of Eric, for he told me that he used often to get tight there.

Curious to think that all this time while Eric worked on the farm, hated it, was utterly lonely, got tight as often as possible just for something to do, I was only a few minutes away in Tonbridge, walking the streets in my restlessness, trying to make myself iller and iller by any foolishness, wanting to die.

And we never met and all the years in between, seven, eight, we knew nothing of each other, they all melted away and wasted.’

Black, dead, inhuman

**************************************************************************************

1980
Andy Warhol,
artist

‘Slept late and then Thomas Ammann woke me up to do a portrait. A beautiful wife with a fat husband. I said she didn’t need makeup. She was easy to do because she was a raving beauty. Her husband tells her she’s ugly - Thomas says that’s how Swiss people treat their wives because they never want them to get too secure. We gave them a book and an Interview and we sent out the film. It’s so hard to find anything but SX-70 film here, they’re phasing the other out. We bought English papers which I paid for ($5).

We had lunch downstairs in the restaurant with Loulou de la Falaise Klossowski and her husband Thadée and Thomas. We signed for it. The food was good. The place was so beautiful with a view of the lake and the mountains. We were the only people there and the sun was beating through the window on our backs. It’d been hailing in the morning. The weather has been so strange. Loulou told us that YSL really was such a genius that he just can’t take it, he has to take a million pills and the whole office gets so depressed when he’s depressed except for her. She said she acts happy no matter what. That’s why she gets sick, because she’s always trying to act happy and it’s really a lot of stress on her liver. She hasn’t had a drink in a year and a quarter but she doesn’t think cocaine is bad. I do, though. We talked about her stepfather, John McKendry. She said he had so many boyfriends. His idea of marrying Maxime was fantasizing that her son Alexis was going to live at home with them and that he could have an affair with him. But the son immediately got married and moved to Wales. Then he envisioned Loulou being there bringing home pretty boys every minute that he could fuck. And actually he did steal her boys.

Loulou said John McKendry was actually killing himself slowly because he’d always fantasized how great and romantic and wonderful and literary the aristocracy must be. Then when he met them, and married a countess - her mother - and got to meet Jackie O. and people like that every day through his job at the Met, he realized they were just normal dumb people like everybody else. There was nothing left for him to live for. Of course I think that Maxime just drove him crazy. I couldn’t say that to Loulou, though. Then we took a cab downtown ($10.50).’

The Andy Warhol Diaries

**************************************************************************************

1983
Andy Warhol,
artist

‘The snow hadn’t started at the beginning of the day and I just didn’t believe it would, the weather reports are always wrong. But by 12:30 it’d started (cabs $5, $3, phone$.50).

Interview was having a screening of The Lords of Discipline at Paramount and I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to get around so I hired a limousine. And then I went into Interview and invited some of the kids to ride up with me, and then Fred screamed at me that 1 had destroyed the office protocol. I keep forgetting that at Interview they have all these levels of who gets invited to what with who, based on how important your title is. Like a regular office. And I didn’t invite Robert Hayes to ride up with me because he was with his sister and his boyfriend Cisco, and Cisco has AIDS so I didn’t want to be that close to him.

People in the streets were laughing and throwing snow.

The movie was great, I enjoyed it so much, it’s so decadent. There are no girls in it, and all these boys fighting. Mitchell Lichtenstein looks great, just like his father, Roy, twenty years ago, and I do think David Keith is going to be the new John Wayne.’

The Andy Warhol Diaries

**************************************************************************************

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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.

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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.