And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

28 July

John Stevens,

‘We continued here. Brigadier Sarsfield marched away with the horse under his command who had quartered in the neighbourhood. At our setting out of Limerick there marched also four pieces of cannon and a body of horse and dragoons, all which took the way of Loughrea for the conveniency of the road which is hard and fit for draught, whereas the way the foot took (as I said before) was unfit for heavy carriages, but being the shorter was judged best for the foot, both for their ease and that they might the sooner relieve Athlone, which was thought to be pressed and in danger and by their coming might be strengthened the better to expect farther relief. But upon the news of the enemies quitting the siege, the foot marched back the easiest though the longest way, and where they could have quarters to refresh them.’

The sieges of Limerick


Caroline Herschel,

‘I wrote part of Flamsteed’s Catalogue in the clear. It was a stormy night, we could not go to bed.’

I swept from ten till one


William Godwin,
philosopher and writer

‘Write 2 pages, on prosperity. Finish Merchant of Venice: Much Ado, 3 acts. Miss Godwin at tea.’

William Godwin’s diary


Sophie Dedekam,

‘It is a precarious world in which we live; one has only the present moment that one can reasonably possess. Today, Aalholm has received a letter from Andersen in Fecamp, which will be completed on Thursday. Tomorrow we travel to Havre, and from there to Fecamp and from there to Norway. So it's the last day we're in Honfleur. We've been to Visit at Thiis, Mad. Pottier, St. Martin, Satis and Huberts. Last time we were at the Côte de Grace, which showed its beauty. There is no other place on earth that has made the impression on me, I sat long at the foot of the image of Christ and, with my inner heart, once again decided in this life to see the view from there. Tonight it is raining. We have been walking the streets of Honfleur for the last time, but I do not want to think about the sadness of “for the last time.” I have been given a very beautiful gold ring of food. Ullern. One thing makes me almost happy to be traveling, since Tellefsen has asked me to sing at his concert this Thursday, and I couldn’t say no, although it has cost me tears. One time to trade off could go ahead, but 2 times was multiplied. It is shown that he is a rare talent. He played for us a bit at Thiis and it was astonishing.’

Dedekam, songwriter and diarist

**************************************************************************************Kate 1870
Kate Chopin,

‘Took the boat at 10 this morning - day cloudy - but I was glad we had no sun. The “blue lake of Constanz” looked bluer than ever through the mist. Just as we were starting out, a child playing near the boat, fell in the water: we had not time to wait & see if he was rescued, but I fear not as he must have been caught in some of the numerous net work of wooden piles. The scenery was exquisite along the shore, and the hour glided away only too fast.

At Constanz
We set out immediately to “see the town;” taking in the beautiful church of St. Stephens, which belongs to the severe gothic order; saw some beautiful paintings not the less lovely for being new, and then went to the Cathedral - ascending some 5000000 steps (more or less) to reach the tower, but were repaid for our fatigue by the view. I should fancy such scenery - such a beautiful side of nature, would influence these people only for good deeds. Left Constaz at 4 1/2, reaching Schaufhausen at a 7.

The Blue bien Hotel; where we have taken quarters seems to be entirely at our disposal: the war having frightened off all visitors. I trust the landlord will not attempt to make his accounts balance at our expense. We command a charming view of the Rhein falls (the largest in Europe) and will remain here some time, if only our impatient spirits permit.’

My wedding day!


John Dearman Birchall,

‘Superb day for our Garden Party which went off brilliantly. 200 people here, Probyns, Gambier Parrys, De Ferrieres, Guises, Bells, Gibbonses, etc. Violet and Lindaraja in Russian costumes made sensation. It was the finest day since we returned home. Dawes Band played.’

The tricycle diaries


Alfred Deakin,

‘Determined to resign re High Court.’

I have been to the Commons


Siegfried Sassoon,

‘A grey, soaking morning of wind-slanted rain. I stare out at the narrow lawn and the beeches, and the occasional gigs and motors that pass the gate. E.B. [Edmund Blunden] is busy in his room, concocting a review of R. Graves’s new poem for The Times Literary Supplement. The wind blusters among dark green boughs from a featureless white sky. A straggling pile of flapping rooks crosses the opaque pallor, travelling into the wind.

I ought to feel satisfied. E.B. is here, backed by our four years of flawless friendship, to discuss poetry and cricket, and the last war, and the next one. Half-a-mile away T.H. [Thomas Hardy] is busy in his study, finishing the one-act play about Tristram and Iseult which he has written for the Dorchester Players (‘but I have stipulated that they mustn’t perform it in London’). He has offered to read it to us. (Florence H. says ‘Reading is not one of T.H’s strong points’.) Rain-drops fall in white streaks from the thatch of Barnes’s old Rectory. The postman has brought the mid-day post, but the letter I was waiting for has not arrived.

Tea at Max Gate. Lady Stacie there, a descendant of R. B. Sheridan - and a fashionable lady, formerly a great beauty. She gushed to T.H. about his novels at the tea-table. He shut her up by saying ‘I am not interested in my novels. I haven’t written one for more than thirty years.’ 6-7.30 in golden weather E.B. and I bicycled to Upper Bockhampton, as E.B. hadn’t yet seen T.H’s birthplace. After dinner T. E. Lawrence turned up (from the Tank Corps camp near Wool). He rang the bell, left a message with the maid that he would come to lunch tomorrow, and departed. I dashed out and caught him as he went through the gate. He looked well - a queer little figure in dark motor-overalls, his brown and grimy face framed in a fur-lined cap. He had a passenger waiting in his side-car, and only stayed a minute.’

A fool’s paradise of poetry


Richard E. Byrd,

‘7:45 a.m. Ran into flat pack ice today about 60 miles north of Upernivik. At first the flat pack ice was in cakes and far apart but gradually the cakes got larger and larger until about 5 this morning the Peary and Bowdoin were completely surrounded by an apparently unbroken field of ice. A number of the boys went over the ship’s side on the ice and walked several miles from the ships seal hunting. [Bromfield?] from the Bowdoin shot a seal in the head (a seal floats only when shot in the head). The seal was in a lead opened up by the Peaty as she came through the ice. We went after her in one of the Bowdoin boats. The Peary has been under a great strain bucking ice for the past seventeen hours. She is however very staunch and powerful and has stood the strain well.

10 PM A lead opened up for us about 8 AM and we got out of the solid ice but there was continual bucking of large flat cake[s] of ice until 6 PM. Now the water is a dead calm and only a few ice bergs are in sight.’

Flying over the Poles


Charles McMoran Wilson.

‘I was summoned this morning to No. 10 Downing Street, where I heard that we should soon be on the move. The P.M. has decided to fly to Cairo. From Gibraltar he will fly south to Takoradi on the Gold Coast, and so across Central Africa to Cairo. It means about five days in the air, landing at places where malaria and yellow fever are rife. The P.M. wanted my advice about inoculations. I did not like the plan and gave my reasons.

As I was leaving I met John Anderson. He said that certain members of the Cabinet were concerned about the Prime Minister’s travels and the dangers he was running in flying over hostile territory in an unarmed bomber. He and Cripps had arranged to see the P.M. this afternoon, and, as health might come up, he would like me to be there.

At the appointed hour I joined them in the Cabinet Room I was most concerned with the actual risk of the protective measures against yellow fever. While we were discussing these problems, the door opened and the Prime Minister hurried in, beaming at us disarmingly - always a sign that he is up to mischief. He began to unfold a large map, spreading it on the table.

“Vanderkloot says it is quite unnecessary to fly so far south. He has explained to me that we can fly in one hop to Cairo. Come here and look.”

Sir John knelt on a chair to get nearer the map, while Cripps leant over his shoulder. The P.M., with a pencil, traced the route from Gibraltar across Spanish Morocco till he struck the Nile, where his pencil turned sharply to the north.

“This changes the whole picture,” the P.M. added confidently. I ventured to ask who Vanderkloot was. It appeared that he had just cross the Atlantic in a bomber, and it is in this machine that we are to fly to Cairo. I wondered why it was left to an American pilot to find a safe route to Cairo, but that did not seem a profitable line of speculation.

“You see. Charles, we need not bother about inoculations.”

Anderson and Cripps pored over the map like excited schoolboys, and the party broke up without a word of warning or remonstrance about the risks the P.M was taking in flying over hostile territory in an unarmed bomber by daylight. The P.M. gets his own way with everyone with hardly a murmur.’

A third dose of pneumonia


Oliver Charles Harvey,

‘I had just gone home last night when Bob Dixon rang up to say would I come back to F.O. at 9 as Mr. Bevin (who had been appointed F.S.) wanted to be given an idea of the Potsdam Conference before starting off the next morning.

We all met at 9 in the empty and gloomy office. Mr. B. very genial and friendly. I congratulated him. He said “commiserate rather”. He had only known at 4.45 that he was to be F.S. - up till then he had thought he was to be Chancellor of the Exchequer which he would have rather liked. “However, I didn’t mind taking this”. The election itself had been the surprise of his life. He was so sure the Tories were in that he had taken a little cottage in Cornwall for the holidays.’

We went over the doings of the Conference. I asked him whether he and Mr. Attlee proposed to carry it on. He said he hadn’t had a talk with A. yet but believed the idea was that the latter would return on Sunday but that he himself should stay on. He was ready to do so and to stay as long as the Soviets and U.S. wished. He thought it wouldn’t be at all desirable that we should propose an adjournment. He would leave that to the others.

Earlier in the day, A.E. had had a farewell tea-party in the Ambassador’s waiting room at the Office. He called me to his room later to say goodbye. Poor man, he had heard while at Potsdam of the discovery of the aeroplane in the jungle with the bodies of his son and the crew. But otherwise he seemed well and not much concerned at the Government’s defeat. He was worried about Winston, and wished he could get him away and out of the House. He would like now to be Leader of Opposition himself and mould the Party as he wants it. But he fears Winston will stay on and get everything wrong. I begged him to give himself a rest, saying that for him personally it couldn’t have been better. He could never have stood another Government as No. 2 to Winston and as Leader of the House plus the F.O. Now he could make a complete recovery. He was worried about the Garter which Winston had offered to recommend him for. He was reluctant to accept it. He thought it would rather diminish him in the public eye.’

I feel shocked and ashamed


Arthur C. Clarke,

‘Stanley: “What we want is a smashing theme of mythic grandeur.” ’

Dreamed I was a robot


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