And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

16 June

John Marrett,

‘The great and Solar Eclipse. The Sun totally covered. The Stars appeard bright Dark as a Moon-Shine night as the eclipse went off could see the moon with the sun.’

Ye largest Funeral


Franz Schubert,

‘It must be pleasant and invigorating to the artist to see all his pupils collected around him, every one striving to do his best in honour of his master’s jubilee fete; to hear in all their compositions a simple, natural expression, free from all that bizarrerie which, with the majority of composers of our time, is the prevailing element, and for which we are almost mainly indebted to one of our greatest German artists; free, I say, from that bizarrerie which links the tragic with the comic, the agreeable with the odious, the heroic with whining (Heulerei), the most sacred subjects with buffoonery - all this without discrimination; so that men become mad and frantic instead of being dissolved in tears, and tickled to idiotic laughter rather than elevated towards God. The fact that this miserable bizarrerie has been proscribed and exiled from the circle of his pupils, so that their eyes may rest on pure holy Nature, must be a source of the liveliest pleasure to the artist who, with a Gluck for his pioneer, has learned to know Nature, and has clung to her in spite of the most unnatural influences of our day.

Herr Salieri celebrated by a jubilee his fifty years’ residence in Vienna, and an almost equally long period of service under the Emperor. His Majesty presented him with a gold medal; and numbers of his pupils, both male and female, were invited to the ceremony. The compositions of his pupils, written specially for the occasion, were produced seriatim [i], according to the date of admission of each pupil, as he had received them when sent to him. The music concluded with a chorus from Salieri’s Oratorio, “Jesu al Limbo” (“Christ in Hades”). The Oratorio is worked out in the true Gluck spirit. Everyone was interested in the entertainment.

To-day I composed the first time for money - namely, a Cantata (“Prometheus “) for the name-day festival of Herr Professor Watteroth von Dräxler. The honorarium 100 florins, Viennese currency.

Man is like a ball between chance and passion. I have often heard it said by writers: “The world is like a stage, where every man plays his part. Praise and blame follow in the other world.” Still, every man has one part assigned him - we have had our part given us - and who can say if he has played it well or ill? He is a bad theatrical manager who distributes amongst his players parts which they are not qualified to act. Carelessness here is not to be thought of. The world has no example of an actor being dismissed because of his bad declamation. As soon as he has a part adapted to his powers, he will play it well enough. Whether he is applauded or not, depends on a public with its thousand caprices. In the other world, praise or blame depends on the Grand Manager of the world. Blame, therefore, is balanced.

Natural disposition and education determine the bent of man’s heart and understanding. The heart is ruler; the mind should be.

Take men as they are, not as they ought to be.

Happy is he who finds a true friend. Happier still is he who finds in his own wife a true friend. To the free man, at this time, marriage is a fearful thought; he confounds it either with melancholy or low sensuality.

Monarchs of our day, you see this and keep silence! Or do ye not see it? Then, God, throw a veil over our senses, and steep our feelings in Lethe! Yet once, I pray, draw back the veil!

Man bears misfortune uncomplainingly; and, for that very reason, feels it all the more acutely. For what purpose did God create in us these keen sympathies?

Light mind, light heart: a mind that is too light generally harbours a heart that is too heavy.

Town politeness is a powerful hindrance to men’s integrity in dealing with one another. The greatest misery of the wise man and the greatest happiness of the fool is based on conventionalism.

A noble-minded unfortunate man feels the depth of his misery and intensity of his joy; just so does the nobly prosperous man feel his good fortune or the opposite.

Now I know nothing more! To-morrow I am sure to know something fresh! Whence comes this? Is my understanding to-day duller than it will be to-morrow? Because I am full and sleepy? Why doesn’t my mind think when my body sleeps? I suppose it goes for a walk. Certainly, it can’t sleep!

Odd questions!
I hear everyone saying;
We can’t venture here on an answer,
We must bear it all patiently.
Now good night
Until ye awake.’

Schubert’s diary fragment


William Charles Macready,

‘Sent to the theatre about the rehearsal, and after looking at the newspaper to ascertain the state of the King’s health - what an absurdity that the natural ailment of an old and ungifted man should cause so much perplexity and annoyance! - went to the Haymarket and rehearsed, with some care, Othello. Acted Othello in some respects very well, but want much attention to it still. [. . .] Forster came into my room with a gentleman, whom he introduced as Dickens, alias Boz - I was glad to see him.’ [Editor’s footnote: ‘Thus began a friendship of the happiest and most genial description that was only terminated by Dickens’s death, thirty-three years afterwards. Dickens was then not more than twenty-five, and had not yet published any of his novels, though the Sketches by Box had brought him a good deal of reputation as a magazine contributor.’]

A surprising man


John Addington Symonds,

‘We left at five for Geneva, where I now am. The journey from Amberieu to Belle Garde was extremely fine. It winds through a pass cut by the Rhone, between Jura and some other mountains. After breaking fast we drove out to see Geneva. First we went to the cathedral, a small and symmetrical building of most interesting transition Romanesque. It has curious specimens of the use of round and pointed arch in combination, and borrows more from Roman models in the capitals than any I have seen. There is the pulpit, beneath whose sounding-board Calvin, Knox, and Beza preached. We sat in Calvin’s chair. The church is perfectly bare, and Protestant. It was more injured in five weeks of French occupation, when 10,000 men garrisoned Geneva and made it a hospital, than in its three centuries of Protestantism. A little Roman Catholic glass is still left in the windows of the apse.’

A splendid liquid sky


Edward Mannock,

‘Yesterday had to see the Doctor again about my eye. Had some more cocaine and he extracted another piece of steel from the membrane. No flying for me again today. Captain Keen got a Hun last night in flames over Vitry. Awfully hot weather. Went to Lilies with the padre today. Brought plenty of tobacco back and strawberries and cherries for the mess. Nothing doing in the air line today at all.

Expect my leave in about three weeks’ time. Roll on! I think I’ve got prickly heat rash breaking out on my face - never handsome at the best of times! Don’t sleep very well o’night. My sins probably!

Captain Napier came back today although he’s still not quite fit.’

I got another one down


Joseph Goebbels,

‘Hitler is still the same dear comrade. You can’t help liking him as a person. And he has a stupendous mind. As a speaker he has constructed a wonderful harmony of gesture, facial expression and spoken word. The born motivator! With him, we can conquer the world. Give him his head, and he will shake the corrupt Republic to its foundations.’

We can conquer the world


Bruce Lockhart,

‘After luncheon went to see Sir Robert Vansittart and told him my plans to leave Fleet Street and also to become a specialist in foreign affairs. He was very nice and said that he would give me all the help he could. He was interesting on the pro-German feeling in Cabinet. He fears that, as usual, we shall talk vaguely of coming to terms with Germany, latter will respond and think they are going to get something. Then will come the bill - bill we cannot pay. And when we do not pay, there will be the same revulsion of feeling in Germany as there was in 1914, when, contrary to their expectations, we came in. Hymn of hate was result.’

Secret agent in Moscow


Thor Heyerdahl,

‘Curious fish sighted on the port bow. Six feet long, maximum breadth one foot, brown, thin snout, large dorsal fin near head and a smaller one in the middle of the back, heavy sickle-shaped tail fin. Kept near surface and swam at times by wriggling its body like an eel. It dived when Hermann and I went out in the rubber dinghy with a hand harpoon. Came up later but dived again and disappeared.’

The Kon-Tiki man


Jack Kerouac,

‘Just made one of those great grim decisions of one’s life - not to present my manuscript of “T & C” to any publisher until I’ve completed it, all 380,000-odd words of it. This means seven months of ascetic gloom and labor - although doubt is no longer my devil, just sadness now. I think I will get this immense work done much sooner this way, to face up to it and finish it. Past two years has been work done in a preliminary mood, a mood of beginning and not completing. To complete anything is a horror, an insult to life, but the work of life needs to get done, and art is work - what work!! I’ve read my manuscript for the first time and I find it a veritable Niagara of a novel. This pleases me and moves me, but it’s sorrowful to know that this is not the age for such art. This is an excluding age in art - the leaver-outer [F. Scott] Fitzgeralds prevail in the public imagination over the putter-inner [Thomas] Wolfes. But so what. All I want from this book is a living, enough money to make a living, buy a farm and some land, work it, write some more, travel a little, and so on. But enough of this. The next seven(TEEN) months are joyless to view - but there is as much joy in these things, there is more joy, than in flitting around as I’ve done since early May, when I completed a 100,000-word section (Mood Log). I might as well learn now what it is to see things as they are - and the truth is, nobody cares how I fare in these writings. So I must fare in the grimmest, most efficient way there is, alone, unbidden, diligently again, always. The future has a glorious woman for me, and my own children, I'm certain of that - I must come up to them and meet them a man with things accomplished. I don’t care to be one of those frustrated fathers. Behind me there must be some stupendous deed done - this is the way to marry, the way to prepare for greater deeds and work. So then -‘

The rush of what is said


Jimmy Boyle,
prisoner and sculptor

‘I didn’t get to sleep till after 3am. Thoughts were flashing in my mind about my position here. There is no doubt that I am going through a crisis point with myself. Freedom is a balanced diet of the mental and physical, and though mentally I feel I’m as free as I’ll ever be, the fact is that I am physically restricted. This is a telling factor in my present problems. I went out a few times last year and some this year for physiotherapy after my operation. I thought that because I had played my part in acting responsibly it would be an on-going thing. I was wrong.

I spent the whole day from early morning till late afternoon working on the piece of stone in the yard. Every hit of the hammer on the chisel was full of violence; so much so that I lost count of all time. I was so absorbed in my thoughts and the piece before me. Tired and worn I went to bed at 4pm and lay till this evening.’

This violent typewriter


Corin Redgrave,

‘Lying in bed is not necessarily tiredness, but finding a way to start the day. Arden told us some wonderful news. He got a 2:2 for his degree!! BRAVO ARDEN!!!! It hasn’t been easy for him, with me being ill, and with him changing course in mid-stream. Tony Kushner came to supper. We talked a lot about writing.’

Our Time of Day


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Why Ever Did I Want to Write is a patchwork of themed stories about one man’s early life, embracing highs and lows but driven by a desire to make the most of being alive, to experience, to feel, and above all to understand. Reminiscent of Karl Knausgaard’s A Death in the Family and Theodore Zeldin’s An Intimate History of Humanity, this memoir, often based on diaries, sees Lyons reflecting on a repressed childhood, exploring the world through years of travelling, and searching for meaning and excitement in the arts and love affairs – an archetype of the counterculture in the 1970s and 1980s.

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Third time lucky - Kip Fenn finds true love. His UN career though is ending with a whimper. Another terrible war is cut short by the devastating Grey Years, and while nations rebuild many individuals turn Notek. In restless retirement, Kip’s lifelong passion for vintage photos sees him launching a new arts institution. But who is the mysterious visitor by his bedside, and how will she affect his planned deathday?


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.

in diary days



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