And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

24 June

Anthony Wood,

‘Midsomer day. Din’d at my brother Kit’s. Cold meat, cold entertainment, cold reception, cold clownish woman. Talking of players and praising them, shee asked me to goe with her and give her a play: ‘if I had money I would, I must be forced to borrow of my brother’ - I told her. Then shee began to extoll Mr. (Edward ?) Fettiplace and Den(nis ?) Huntingdon for cloiying with curtesies, doing any thing that she desired. I told her ‘if I had it, or were in my power, I would doe it.’ She told me that shee ‘had 300li. per annum and scorne(d) to goe.’ I told her ‘I came to be merry and not be scolded at.’ Shee, angry at the word ‘scolding,’ told me ‘if I did not like it’ (the diet), ‘I should leave it.’

A cold clownish woman


Ralph Waldo Emerson,
writer and philosopher

‘In reading Henry Thoreau’s Journal, I am very sensible of the vigor of his constitution. That oaken strength which I noted whenever he walked or worked or surveyed wood lots, the same unhesitating hand with which a field-laborer accosts a piece of work which I should shun as a waste of strength. Henry shows in his literary task. He has muscle, and ventures on and performs feats which I am forced to decline. In reading him, I find the same thought, the same spirit that is in me, but he takes a step beyond, and illustrates by excellent images that which I should have conveyed in a sleepy generality. ‘Tis as if I went into a gymnasium, and saw youths leap, climb, & swing with a force unapproachable, though their feats are only continuations of my initial grapplings and jumps.’

The drollest mushroom


Thomas Cobden-Sanderson,

Yesterday afternoon we called at the Morrises, and in the evening supped with the William Richmonds, where we again saw the Morrises. I was talking to Mrs Morris after supper, and saying how anxious I was to use my hands - “Then why don’t you learn bookbinding?” she said. “That would add an Art to our little community, and we would work together. I should like,” she continued, “to do some little embroideries for books, and I would do so for you.” Shall bookbinding, then, be my trade?

Innumerable ripples; countless diamonds


James Madison DeWolf,

[De Wolf’s last entry] ‘5 A.M. to 7 P.M. 3 hour halt, marched 10 miles & large branch nearly as large as main stream found another 7 miles beyond marched within a few miles of the forks found lots of new signs old camps in profusion they begin not to be so high’

DeWolf’s last stand


Louis Agassiz Fuertes,
ornithologist and artist

‘Yesterday afternoon we were followed for hours by a large majestic bird that the various sharks aboard disagreed upon. Elliot thought he was a fulmar petrel -- while Fiske + Merriam thought it was a black-footed Albatross. Its wings were very flat -- a little down curved if anything Puffins were continually flying + little bunches from 5 to 20 or 30 would pass nearby at short intervals. They looked very curious, like parrots fore and guillemots aft. Some murrelets and one new kind of guillemots were seen; the latter white-breasted.’

Puffins, pipits and plovers


Joseph Goebbels,

‘Sixteen hundred feet of newsreel from the start of our Russian campaign. Some of our new weapons are shown - huge monstrosities that smash to pieces everything in their way. The divine judgement of history is being passed on the Soviet Union.’

We can conquer the world


George Adamson,

‘In the course of the afternoon Joy turned up in a hired lorry. Very upset and wanted to dash off to Nairobi, appearing at the divorce case in court and telling the judge that the whole thing was “collusion” with the idea of getting the proceedings stopped and saving me! She said she had decided she did not want to marry me or anyone again.’

A life of Joy and lions


George Kennan,

‘I feel that I have been dead for months. I do not even recognise my former self. This evening, strolling around town with Christopher [in Valkenburg, The Netherlands], I suddenly saw, staring me in the face from a bookshop window, my own name on a Dutch translation of Russia & The West. [. . .] I had the feeling of “Hello, stranger,” & I wondered whether the fellow who wrote that book would ever return.

What bothers me is a total separation of personal life and intellectual life, so that when I tend to personal affairs, even to the children, the intellect stagnates . . .

Have the feeling, even now, that I ought to be writing about this trip. But writing: what? About this Western Europe? I used to think there was something mysterious & wonderful about it. Today, I know there is not. I looked at this place tonight and I realised that here there could not even be a literature, because there is no nature except in parks & without nature, as a foil at least, there is no real human experience.

Why was it different in the railway age? Was it really only that I was younger?’

George Kennan’s diaries


Paul K Lyons,



About 7:00, I buy a lemon tea, wash in the toilets, and a sit in Goethe Park. I talk for a while to a pigeon man - he’s a much travelled journalist, but getting old now he works in a library and writes - every morning he brings food for the pigeons and talks to them. He shows me the way to the periodicals room where I read the Guardian (19 June). It’s also a good place to leave my bag. I go to the Esperanto museum but it looks dead and decayed so I don’t bother - the Neue Gallerie where I find Cezanne, Van Gogh (best of which is his self portrait), Degas, Munch. I meet two chatty girls from Brighton - graduates who’ve been to Prague and Budapest.

We meet outside the Vienna State Opera at 4:00 to get tickets for the ballet - crowds of people, and our numbers are shouted out. This entitles us to a place in the queue where we wait until 5:30. I buy a ticket and then have to wait again to have the ticket torn and again, with even more of crush near the top of the stairs, to find a place - but I have to check my rucksack in and so lose the chance of securing a place. I meet a couple from New Zealand who let me join their patch, and for one act I have a seat. This is first ballet I’ve ever seen live, and what a way to start - Carol Cain and Nureyev in Swan Lake. Cain is fabulous. Her movements, with Nureyev controlling her, are faultless - apparently Nureyev rewrote acts 1, 3 and 4 and changed Tchaikovsky’s music. There are tremendous applauses through each act and after - at the end I leave before the encores have finished. I am invited to join the NZ couple for coffee but I don’t have enough Austrian funds. I sleep in the same place.’

Around the world in diary days


Paul K Lyons,

‘Colin read my Crowley play. Jenny Topper at the Bush read it, and now there is nothing left of it. A dead play. No one wants it. The characters are unshaped, there is no theatrical development etc etc yawn yawn. Colin thinks I should go on writing stories. Ha ha, did you hear the one about the man called Frederic [my estranged father] who wanted to be a writer.’

Do what thou wilt


Paul Bowles,

‘Last night Bertolucci sent a car for me, to take me to the Minzah for dinner. At the beginning of the meal he said: “At last, it’s happening.” “Yes. For two years I’ve been wondering whether it would,” I told him. Everyone connected with the making of the film was there, including the producer, whom I’d met a few years ago. . . A very noisy floor show was going on for the benefit of a huge group of shrieking tourists. Bertolucci brought up the subject of music . . . I suspect he’d like electronic material rather than symphonic. Much easier, much cheaper . . . Scarfiotti had mentioned that he’d like to use Agadez as the setting for the final city in the south. I hope this can be managed, and that they don’t try to shoot everything in Morocco. I can appreciate their not wanting to get involved with the Algerians, but Morocco is no substitute for Algeria or Niger.’

The Sheltering Sky


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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.

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.

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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.