And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

28 February

955
Ki no Tsurayuki,
writer

‘The sun shone forth from the clouds, and, as there was said to be danger of pirates during the voyage, he prayed for protection to the Shinto and Buddhist gods.’

The earliest literary diary

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1907
Richard Harding Davis,
writer

‘When just going up for coffee, saw what was so big, looking at it against horizon, thought it must be an elephant. Was a young hippo. Captain Jensen brought boat within eighty yards of him, and both Anstrossi and I fired, apparently knocking him off his legs, for he rolled on his side as though his back was broken. I missed him the second shot, which struck the water just in front of him. The other three shots caught him in the head, in the mouth and ear. He lay quite still, and the boys rushed out a gang plank and surrounded him singing and shouting and cutting his tail to make him bleed and weaken him. They don’t die for an hour but he seemed dead enough, so I went to my cabin to re-load my gun and my camera. In three minutes I came out, and found the hippo still quiet. Then he began to toss his head and I shot him again, to put him out of pain. In return for which he rolled over into the water and got away. I was mad. Later saw four more. Just at sunset while taking bath another was seen on shore. We got within sixty yards of him and all of us missed him or at least did not hurt him. He then trotted for the river with his head up and again I must have missed, although at one place he was but fifty yards away, when he entered the water, a hundred. I stepped it off later in the sand. I followed him up and hit him or some one of us hit him and he stood up on his hind legs. But he put back to land for the third time. Captain said wait until moon came out. But though we hunted up to our waists saw none. One came quite close at dinner. Seven on the day.’

Gouty old gentlemen

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1933
Erich Ebermayer,
writer

‘In violation of the rights of parliamentary immunity, all Communist Reichstag members are arrested. All Communist Party functionaries are arrested. So too are the leaders of the Social Democratic Party. Why? Does the government assume that they stand behind the setting of the fire? Will the government claim that the Socialists encouraged and incited the arsonist? But no, it appears that we must stop trying to find rational arguments. The Revolution creates its own legalities.... Now for the first time since last night, the Revolution has truly begun.’

The Reichstag on fire

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1937
Elizabeth Smart,
writer

‘Hampstead still has that air of concealing just around the corner, the house I read about in some old book when I was a child, a different life. I know someday I shall find that family whose smell is in the very Hampstead mists, behind the clipped hedges, under the arched doorways. Keats walking with Leigh Hunt, or the whole Sanger family sitting in the sunshine in an untidy studio making music in the middle of the afternoon.’

Everything is sunshining

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1945
Alexander Cadogan,
civil servant

‘Found P.M. had sent a rather silly telegram to Stalin. Cancelled it (or held it up) and rang up A [Anthony Eden, Foreign Secretary]. He agreed and I sent him down some modifications and additions.’

Went to see P.M. (in bed)

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1970
Stephen Spender,
poet

‘I drove to New York and dined with Auden. My sixty-first birthday: his sixty-third was two days ago, 26 February.’

The ghost of a reader

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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, 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.