And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

19 February

Thomas Hearne,

‘This has been such a severe winter, that the like hath not been known since the year 1683/4. In some respects it exceeded that. For tho’ the frost did not last so long as it did at that time, yet there was a much greater and deeper snow. Indeed it was the biggest snow that ever I knew: as it was also the severest frost that ever I have been sensible of. It began on Monday Dec. 5th, and continued till Friday, Feb 10th following, which is almost ten weeks, before there was an entire thaw. Indeed it began to thaw two or three times, but then the frost soon began again with more violence, and there was withall a very sharp and cold and high wind for some days. When it first began to thaw, and afterwards to freeze again, it made the ways extreme slippery and dangerous, and divers accidents happened.’

Remarks and collections


Wilford Woodruff,

‘I repaired to the house of the Lord and stood in the midst of the congregation of the Saints, where I beheld President Joseph Smith Jr. arise in the stand and for several hours addressed the Saints in the power of God. Joseph had been absent from Kirtland on business for the Church, though not half as long as Moses was in the mount. Many were stirred up in their hearts and some were against him as the Israelites were against Moses, but when he arose in the power of God in their midst, as Moses did anciently, they were put to silence for the complainers saw that he stood in the power of a Prophet. O how weak is man.’

Oh how weak is man


Maria Mitchell,

‘I am just learning to notice the different colors of the stars, and already begin to have a new enjoyment. Betelgeuse is strikingly red, while Rigel is yellow. There is something of the same pleasure in noticing the hues that there is in looking at a collection of precious stones, or at a flower-garden in autumn. Blue stars I do not yet see, and but little lilac except through the telescope.’

Two nebulae in Leo


Frances Dallam Peter,

‘Last evening a short time after the salute was fired a large crowd was seen to assemble at Mrs Morgans . . . & several soldiers were seen to search the house. We learnt to day that the occasion was this. While the guns were firing Frank Key or as he is called Key Morgan with two or three other boys went to the janitor of the college [Transylvania] and got the key to the door leading on the roof on pretext that a ball had been thrown up there, & hoisted a secession flag on the college. The janitor saw it and cut it down & by order of the teacher Mr. Patterson put it in a cellar till it could be delivered to the authorities, but a Mrs John Dudley who lives near the college told Morgan who got the flag & took it home & having secreted it made the best of his way off. Some soldiers however had seen the flag on the college and came to inquire the cause of its being there, which having learnt they searched Mrs Morgans house found the flag which they tore up and divided among themselves. They got the names of the boys concerned & will probably arrest them. Mr. Patterson this morning suspended them until a faculty meeting could be held when they (the boys) will probably be expelled.’

A stir in consequence


Henry J. Heinz,

‘There was a meeting of creditors today of H. N. & Co. There were only about 15 creditors present. They decided to pay 11% of a dividend and then close up and declare a final one again.’

Caught in the mustard mill


Kathleen Scott,

‘Got my wireless. I was sitting on deck after breakfast not feeling very well [she had her period]. The captain came and said he wanted to speak to me in his room. It didn’t occur to me in the slightest what he wanted but I went. Poor old chap’s hands were trembling when he said “I’ve got some news for you but I don’t see how I can tell you.” I said “The Expedition?” and he said “Yes”. “Well,” I said, “Let’s have it” and he showed me the message which ran “Captain Scott and six others perished in blizzard after reaching S Pole Jan. 18th.” I remember I said without the least truth “Oh well, never mind, I expected that - thanks very much - I’ll go and think about it” and I went downstairs.’

Kathleen Scott as diarist


Ivan Bunin,

‘The newspapers report that the Germans have begun their attack. Everyone says: “Oh, if it were only so!”

We took a walk to Lubyanka. There were “meetings” everywhere. A red-haired fellow talked on and on about the injustices of the old regime. He was wearing a coat with a round, dark-brown collar. His face was freshly powdered and shaven; he had red curly eyebrows and gold fillings in his mouth. A snub-nosed gentleman with bulging eyes kept objecting hotly to what the red-haired fellow was saying. Women were fervidly adding their two cents’ worth, but always at the wrong time. They kept breaking into the argument (one that was based on “principle,” so the red-haired fellow said) with details and hurried stories from their own lives, by which they felt compelled to prove God-knows-what. Several soldiers were also there. They acted as though they understood nothing; but, as always, they had their doubts about something (or more accurately, everything) and kept shaking their heads suspiciously. [. . .]

A lady complained hurriedly that now she didn’t have a piece of bread to her name, even though once she had had a school. She had had to let all her students go because she had nothing to feed them. “Whose life has gotten better with the Bolsheviks?” she asked. “Everyone’s worse off and we, the people, most of all!”

A heavily made-up little bitch interrupted her, breaking in with naive remarks. She started to say that the Germans were about to arrive and that everyone would pay through the nose for what they had done.

“Before the Germans get here, we’ll kill you all,” a worker said coldly and took off. The soldiers nodded in agreement: “If that isn’t true!” they said, and they also left.’

Flying into an abyss


Siegfried Sassoon,

‘Ten minutes late, I was convoyed into the luncheon-room at the Marlborough Club. There I found Sir Edmund Gosse entertaining Admiral Sir William Pakenham, Walter Sickert, Philip Guedalla, and Philip Gosse. These ingredients mixed none too well, and Sir Edmund was all anxiety to set conviviality in motion. When making me known to the Admiral (rubicund, hard-bitten, genial, and unostentatious) he revived the faded glories of my fox-hunting - ‘Mr Sassoon is the only living poet of any eminence who hunts’ - whereupon (somewhat confused by the Bohemian proximity of Sickert and the Whistler tradition) I clumsily blurted out ‘I only do it to save my face!’ (an obscure utterance which implied that I have done my little best to compromise with the Philistines, but was allowed to pass without comment).

Guedalla, elegantly Semitic, with a fat pearl in his tie, was sedulous in politeness to the Admiral, but out of range of Sickert, with whom he’d fain have discussed Max Beerbohm. Philip Gosse sat silent, as though waiting to be utilised when required. Sickert talked to me in undertones. He began by congratulating me on my poem in the New Statesman a few weeks ago (‘On Reading the War Diary of a Defunct Ambassador’ - it was on the same page as an article about him). This caused me to feel that the said poem wouldn’t be well received by members of the Marlborough Club. With E.G. there, Sickert made no attempt to shine as a raconteur. He is either first or nowhere. But he told me (I forget how it cropped up) a story about a woman in Paris who was crazily wrought up about the visit of the Czar and Czarina. ‘She flung herself into the Seine. When her body was recovered, it was found that her drawers were made of the Russian flag.’ This reference to drawers seemed to make the Admiral more at his ease, and the topic was pursued in a series of anecdotes. The Admiral’s was about a critical moment in the Battle of Jutland, when his fellow-Admiral broke the tension by remarking, ‘I am told that Princess Mary wears pink flannel drawers.’ ’

A fool’s paradise of poetry


Andy Warhol,

‘I got up before 9:00 to watch the Today Show and try to figure out why Gene Shalit hasn’t used the thing he did on me. He’ll use it after I die, he’ll say, “I spoke with Andy Warhol in 1980 and here is that clip.” I must be a really terrible guest. I mean, I must be too weird for TV because it’s always the same thing - they never know what to do with it. Well, the 20/20 thing that Karen Lerner shot during the Exposures tour is supposed to be on next week. The twenty-eighth.

We had office pizza lunch ($5).

Oh, and this guy from New York called about the first part of Popism that they’re running on the cover. Wouldn’t it be great if the book was a big hit and we didn’t have to work to promote it?

Ron Feldman came down and we looked at the Ten Jews. It’s really such a good idea to do that, they’re going to sell. And all the Germans want portraits. Maybe because we have a good person selling there, Hans Mayer. How come we don’t get many American portraits?

And I forgot to say that when I was walking along University Place a kid stuck his head out of a car window and said, “Aren’t boys cuter in cars?” ’

The Andy Warhol Diaries


Dirk Bogarde,

‘Dull. Bitter. Walk to hospital. F. stronger, more alert. Buy enormous tin of candies for the nurses, all of whom are incredibly kind and caring. Nurses should get two thousand pounds a day. Not one. Cold starting, I think. Bugger.

Lunch Elizabeth and Sarah at very noisy restaurant (their choice not mine) at end of Kings Road. Ear-splitting noise, plates crashing on tiled floor, food fairly oily, masses of Sloane Rangers, ‘Hooray Henrys’ plus ‘Hooray Henriettas’, with too many children, all shouting and eating pasta. Proof they’ve all ‘done’ Italy at some time, I suppose. Rupert [nephew] and pretty girl, Portia, arrive for coffee. Three bottles of wine. Elizabeth insists on paying with her Barclaycard. Never had one in her life before . . . showing off! Cost a bomb too, silly girl.

Rupert drives me back to Connaught in clapped-out car, very fast, very expert, a really super chap, at least six foot four. Where does he get the height in our family of ‘ordinary measure’?

F.’s room massed with flowers like a mobster’s funeral parlour. Remove most into the corridor, he’ll suffocate. Stay longer than normal: a good sign.

Boaty Boatwright, Diana Hammond, Kathleen Tynan call from N. Y. A lot of love flying around.

Meet Kathleen Sutherland in Hall. Sad, growing old. She was so vivid and glamorous when she taught me fashion design at Chelsea Poly in ’37-38. Misses Graham terribly and says she is just waiting to join him. Why did he have to go first?

No answer to that.’ 

Forwood valiant and brave


Brian Eno,

‘How excitingly dominant these wealthy, healthy, modishly dressed and highly perfumed German ladies look! All German history - at least from Goethe to the Nazis - transmutes in them into a statement of sexual power.

Enormous breakfast! - fruit, meat, muesli, two pots of tea, papaya juice.

I feel like I had an ideal day today - it had fun, art, ideas and satisfactory work. Ever since I first met her I’ve had this great bond with Maria. Really a deep-fun friendship which I couldn’t have with any man. I guess there’s a kind of flirting in it - but ironic, a game, because I’m sure that in her mind as well as mine there’s never been any thought of sexual contact. But the game of flirting is a fun game which we play - just for fun; and because it lets us talk about other things, serious things, in that just-for-fun way. I love her company - and so does Rolf. At dinner tonight I wanted to say, ‘Will you please get married. Now!’ because they both shine so much in each other’s company.

At Pixelpark, home of the ROM-makers, I gave a speech and really liked those people. I realize that what I’m talking about is a ‘rule moiré: patterns of rule interactions created by overlays of probabilistic decision matrices. Of course I wouldn’t say that to anyone.

At Sigi’s MediaPool we put in birch trees - recalled from my show in Hanover. Well remembered, Rolf! In the evening we went to see Alan Wexler’s show, which was full of thousands of good ideas. What a truly individual thinker. Then to CD-Rom fest, which was mildly yawnsome. BLINDROM was good.

Beautiful late TV show of pop?/classical?/Turkish?/Arabic? orchestra and singing. Extraordinarily ugly audience transformed to beauty by singing. What clothes the musicians were wearing! Style in an orchestra! What a good idea.’

Happy birthday Brian Eno


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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.

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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, several times a week. Now over ten years old, The Diary Review is the secondary source for the extracts in this online anthology.