And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

12 June

1684
John Evelyn,
writer

‘I went to advise and give directions about the building of two streets in Berkeley Garden, reserving the house and as much of the garden as the breadth of the house. In the meantime, I could not but deplore that sweet place (by far the most noble gardens, courts, and accommodations, stately porticos, etc., anywhere about the town) should be so much straitened and turned into tenements. But that magnificent pile and gardens contiguous to it, built by the late Lord Chancellor Clarendon, being all demolished, and designed for piazzas and buildings, was some excuse for my Lady Berkeley’s resolution of letting out her ground also for so excessive a price as was offered, advancing near £1,000 per annum in mere ground rents; to such a mad intemperance was the age come of building about a city, by far too disproportionate already to the nation: I having in my time seen it almost as large again as it was within my memory.’

A most excellent person

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1776
John Baker,
lawyer

‘Going through streets leads out of St James’s Market into Haymarket, saw some ham at window in Royal Larder - went in and had some and some porter. NB: I believe this the same person kept house of that name 3 or 4 years ago in Jermyn Street, où many people caught gaming and seemed as if ham (for seemed to have nothing else) only a pretence.’

Ham at window

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1825
Thomas Robert Malthus,
economist

‘Feats of swimming from the bridges of the Schelde and the Leys, numerous barges laden with Coals chiefly from Charleroix.

In the afternoon to Brussels by the Diligence - premiere caisse. Pavé the first half of the way between two rows of beeches. Country flat but not unpleasing from the number of trees - chiefly different kinds of poplar, and beech, - no large timber. Much rye in full ear, and good crops, some barley turning yellow, - but little wheat - just coming into ear. good crops flax. From Alost the crops of wheat and rye forwarder, and the finest and fullest I ever saw. - the first half of the way the houses the neatest, - last half thatched cottages, and a waving country much like England. Alost and Assche very white and cheerful. Blue frocks, women without shoes. Hotel Belle Vue. Place Royale. Park - splendid.’

The cost of men and food

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1902
Victor Trump,
sportsman

‘Test match . . . raining hard . . . Mac[Laren] won toss, batted. Two for none . . . had four chances off me . . . wrote letters.’

Ran about all day

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1942
George Orwell,
writer

‘The only time when one hears people singing in the BBC is in the early morning, between 6 and 8. That is the time when the charwomen are at work. A huge army of them arrives all at the same time. They sit in the reception hall waiting for their brooms to be issued and making as much noise as a parrot house, and then they have wonderful choruses, all singing together as they sweep the passages. The place has a quite different atmosphere at this time from what it has later in the day.’

When DID Orwell start a diary?

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1954
Kenneth Williams,
actor and writer

‘It seems almost incredible to me now, that I have come through 6 weeks of this kind of purgatory. I am genuinely perplexed as to how I have come through it. A team of people for whom I have practically no affection whatsoever. Plays so wretched that I blush to think I’ve helped to propagate them: and a kind of acting which is so dirty that I mentally vomit. This lesson has been learned. Proximity with such muck is dangerous. It is also futile artistically. One achieves nothing. One is in danger of losing everything. How right everyone was in London! What a fool I was to venture near such crap!’

Carry on carping

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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.