And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

19 July

1706
John Flamsteed,
astronomer

‘At London: waited on Sir I. Newton about printing 100 or 150 more copies: represented that I thought it needless, contrary to our agreement, &c.: he seemed to assent, and that we should go on, on the old foot: I suggested that it was probable Mr. Churchill had caused more to be printed than he ought, by 200: that if any besides myself had copies to sell, I should not make anything of mine: he agreed that nobody but I ought to have any copy to sell; and that, as I desired, the plates should be put into my hands, that I might cause them to be engraved and drawn off: promised to pay me £100, and I to send J. Hudson to him, to inform him about the Prince’s treasurer: promised to wait on him next week.’

The first Astronomer Royal

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1792
Elizabeth Simcoe,
artist and wife of colonial governor

‘The Governor went to-day to see Carleton Island, nearly opposite the shore from Kingston, where there were extensive fortifications, now dismantled. The island was afterwards discovered to be within American territory. Returned at six with wild raspberries, which were exceedingly fine. Carleton Island abounds with them and strawberries and plums, while the air is esteemed so healthy that the people go there to get rid of the ague, a complaint which is very prevalent in this province. The flowering raspberry grows wild here, and bears a very insipid, flat fruit. Mr Fisher, of the Engineers, is here on his way to Quebec from Niagara. He showed us some beautiful sketches he has taken of the Falls of Niagara.’

Travels in Upper Canada

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1691
John Evelyn,
writer

‘. . . in the morning Dr. Tenison preached the first sermon, taking his text from Psalm xxvi. 8. “Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.” In concluding, he gave that this should be made a parish-church so soon as the Parliament sat, and was to be dedicated to the Holy Trinity, in honour of the three undivided Persons in the Deity; and he minded them to attend to that faith of the Church, now especially that Arianism, Socinianism, and Atheism began to spread amongst us. In the afternoon, Mr. Stringfellow preached on Luke vii. 5, “The centurion who had built a synagogue.” He proceeded to the due praise of persons of such public spirit, and thence to such a character of pious benefactors in the person of the generous centurion, as was comprehensive of all the virtues of an accomplished Christian, in a style so full, eloquent and moving, that I never heard a sermon more apposite to the occasion. He modestly insinuated the obligation they had to that person who should be the author and promoter of such public works for the benefit of mankind, especially to the advantage of religion, such as building and endowing churches, hospitals, libraries, schools, procuring the best editions of useful books, by which he handsomely intimated who it was that had been so exemplary for his benefaction to that place. Indeed, that excellent person. Dr. Tenison, had also erected and furnished a public library [in St. Martin’s]; and set up two or three free-schools at his own charges. Besides this, he was of an exemplary holy life, took great pains in constantly preaching, and incessantly employing himself to promote the service of God both in public and private. I never knew a man of a more universal and generous spirit, with so much modesty, prudence, and piety.’

Modesty, prudence, piety

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1950
William Lyon Mackenzie King,
prime minister

‘Last night was a very unfortunate night. I went soundly to sleep almost at once, but wakened because of conditions in the room, too cold, etc. Got nurse to arrange things. Took usual morphine injection about one. Found the room very cold around five past five. The nurse had left the window open, and the temperature had changed. I called to her many times. Put on the light, etc. and finally had to go to her room to come to straighten things in my room. She was saying over and over again that she was sorry. As far as I could see, she was enjoying a meal on her bed, when I looked into the room, she also said she had been writing. It was very disappointing as it was from that time that I found my breathing heavy, and had a broken night’s sleep instead of one of the best I should have had. John brought tea at seven, but again my sleep was broken until ten. I could not get properly rested. At one stage he came to change my gowns [. . .] I had a new drug this morning [. . .] Got through a little dictation with Lafleur both before and after luncheon. I really should have gone into the sun at three, but was very tired, and feeling weary, went to bed instead. Evidently this was wise as I slept very soundly until quarter to seven - almost three hours. [. . .] I regret having missed the out-of-doors for a walk through the day. When it came to getting up for dinner, found myself alone to give me clothing part of which had been taken away. Lafleur came to the rescure. I got what was needed and later signed letters. Then, went downstairs for dinner, at quarter to eight, dictating diary to date. Very very sorry to have kept Lafleur all that time.’

A real companion and friend

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1967
Kenneth Williams,
actor and writer

‘Sitting in their lounge, in the quiet of the evening. I felt I would love to have a place of my own where there was such peace. I suppose one never really does get it in London. I should think I’ve heard more noise and drilling these last few years than ever before in my life. O! for those old days of quiet when new building was rare, and road mending was once in a blue moon!’

Carry on carping

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1969
Jacques Piccard,
oceanographer

‘The assault occurred at 6:09, at 252 meters down. As a matter of fact, it was really an attack; short, precise. The swordfish was about five or six feet long. Another one was waiting for him at the limit of our visibility. The combatant rushed forward and apparently tried to hit our porthole, missing it by a few inches. Then he circled around for several minutes close to the boat. Content that his domination of this portion of his realm was not threatened, he joined his friend and left, never to be seen again.’

The deeper you delve

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And so made significant . . .
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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.

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, 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.