And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

27 January

1797
André-Marie Ampère,
scientist

‘At length she has arrived from Lyons; her mother did not come into the room at once. Apparently for the sake of looking at some vignettes, I knelt by her side; her mother came in and made me sit down by her.’

Ampère falling in love

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1842
Richard Henry Dana Jr.,
lawyer

‘Dine with Dickens at F. C. Gray’s. [. . .] Like Dickens here very much. The gentlemen are talking their best, but Dickens is perfectly natural and unpretending. He could not have behaved better. He did not say a single thing for display. I should think he had resolved to talk as he would at home, and let his reputation take care of itself. He gave a capital description of Abbotsford [the mansion built by Walter Scott]. It was enough to make you cry. He described the hat Scott wore in his last illness, and the dents and bruises there were in it from his head falling against his chair when he lost the power of his muscles. It was heart-sickening. “And to think of a man’s killing himself for such a miserable place as Abbotsford is,” adds Dickens.

C. P. Curtis asks him if there were any such magistrates in London as Fang in “Oliver Twist.” Dickens says, “One just such, and many more like him,” and tells us that his Fang is a portrait of a magistrate named Tang, who was sitting when the book appeared, and that he was removed by the Home Department in ten weeks after the publication, upon a thorough inquiry. . .’

The slurs of vessel owners

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1861
John Addington Symonds,
writer

‘Breakfasted with L. Stanley, and had an amusing party. Met Owen - old Balliol man, returned from Bombay College - Wordsworth, Green, Jackson, Ford, Wright, White, Bethel. Talked about “Essays and Reviews,” and the storm brewing for them; about Jowett’s parentage - Ford knows his mother and sister slightly, they live at Torquay; then of De Quincey, without some allusion to whom I hardly remember any intellectual Oxford breakfast go off; then about historic portraits - Wycliffe’s at Balliol, Chaucer’s from an old illumination, Dante’s in the Arundel Society’s publications. Sat on till 11.15. I went and wrote a long letter to papa about myself.’

A splendid liquid sky

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1891
George Bernard Shaw,
playwright

‘. . . had tea together at the Aerated Bread Shop at the corner of Parliament Square.’

GBS dines out

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1935
Patrick Leigh Fermor,
writer

‘I left Koutloumousiou early yesterday, and started off downhill, the road winding beside a rushing torrent, breaking over great boulders, and dashing on in a lather of white foam. The peninsula here is entirely forested with evergreens, so that it is difficult to believe it’s only January; among the ilexes and oleanders are many olives, aspens, cypresses and cedar. The higher slopes are almost entirely fir.

Coming round a corner I saw a funny little grey-haired man sitting on the edge of an old stone well, with some big brown paper parcels beside him. He wished me good day in French, and giving me a cigarette, began to tell me all about himself. He was from Kavalla, and had lived on the Holy Mountain for four years, making maps of it, and copying ikons on wood. He showed me a few of these, they were good.

The sea soon came into sight round a bend, and the large monastery of Iviron, the high walls appearing above the trees. These walls are lofty, and have the effect of being much higher than they are long, as they are divided into sort of rectangular bastions, rising sheer to quite a height without a single window, then suddenly branching out into an overhanging balcony, with undulating tiled roofs, and the plaster painted bright colours - red, blue, green, in crude designs.

Several monks were sitting on benches in the big, sunny cobbled courtyard, half asleep, stroking their beards. [. . .]’

Paddy’s broken road

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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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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.