And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

2 June

1676
John Evelyn,
writer

‘I went with my Lord Chamberlain to see a garden, at Enfield town; thence, to Mr Secretary Coventry’s lodge in the Chase. It is a very pretty place, the house commodious, the gardens handsome, and our entertainment very free, there being none but my Lord and myself. That which I most wondered at was, that, in the compass of twenty-five miles, yet within fourteen of London, there is not a house, barn, church, or building, besides three lodges. To this Lodge are three great ponds, and some few inclosures, the rest a solitary desert, yet stored with no less than 3,000 deer. These are pretty retreats for gentlemen, especially for those who are studious and lovers of privacy.

We returned in the evening by Hampstead; to see Lord Wotton’s house and garden (Bellsize House), built with vast expense by Mr O’Neale, an Irish gentleman who married Lord Wotton’s mother, Lady Stanhope. The furniture is very particular for Indian cabinets, porcelain, and other solid and noble movables. The gallery very fine, the gardens very large, but ill kept, yet woody and chargeable The soil a cold weeping clay, not answering the expense.’

A most excellent person

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1816
Benjamin Haydon,
artist

‘I rode yesterday to Hampton Court round by Kingston & dined at Richmond. The day is delicious, the hedges smelling of may blossom, the trees green, the leaves full & out, the Thames shining with a silvery glitter, & a lovely girl who loves you, [in] the dining room of the Star & Garter at Richmond, sitting after dinner on your knee, with her heavenly bosom palpitating against your own, her arm round your neck playing with your hair, while you are sufficiently heated to be passionately alive to the ecstasy without having lost your senses from its excesses - Claret on the table and the delicious scene of Nature in Richmond Park beneath your open window, moaty, sunny, out of which rises the wandering voice of the cuckoo, while the sun, who throws a silent splendour over all, sinks into the lower vaults & the whole sky is beginning to assume the tinged lustre of an afternoon.’

Thirst after grandeur

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1882
Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff,
politician

‘Our new daughter, born 16th March, was to-day christened Iseult Frederica by Bishop Gell. Her godmothers are Mrs. Greg, the companion of so many of our journeys, associated, too, with our visit to Brittany, the meeting-place of the Iseults, and Lady Malmesbury, the youngest daughter of my old friend John Hamilton. Her godfather is Sir Frederick Roberts.’

Good-natured books

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1943
Donald Friend,
artist

‘You know, sometimes I rather doubt if people reading all this will credit truth to my record. But I assure you it is as true as anyone could expect. After all, one can never do more than translate the facts through the medium of one’s own personal perceptions. Thus many of the stresses may be false or exaggerated. I see things absurdly, because I am absurdly incapable of the state of mind that can seriously indulge in the very activities that I record. Somehow they appear to me as funny, sometimes monstrous, symptoms of wrong-mindedness. They are like the laughable antics of droll animals; diverting to those watchers outside the cage, but really solemn affairs to the denizens within.’

Friend’s diaries found

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1948
Kenneth Williams,
actor and writer

‘Feeling awful. Will probably die tonight at about eleven.’

Carry on carping

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1964
Seán Ó Ríordáin,
writer

‘I saw a fat, ugly, middle-aged woman the other night. She is long married. Where is the snow that was so bright last year? I remember when she was a vision, when I thought I was in love with her. There was no beauty or contentment in the world then but what could he found in her. Now I wouldn’t care if she didn’t exist. She is a fat, ugly, old woman. Other, younger women, now hold the sway that she once held. This is an old story - the departure of youth and beauty. But it is even worse when they don’t depart but still remain, and we continue to crave them. People matter not a whit. They come and they go. But youth and beauty are eternal, and however old we may be they remain our constant goal. It was always people between twenty and twenty-five that Marcus Aurelius saw on the Appian Way. That is enough to break one’s heart.’

I know my own death

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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.