And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

25 June

John Worthington,

’In the afternoon a Sermon for Confession to the Priest was preached at St. Maries by Mr. Sparrow of Queen’s Coll. & Mr. Adams succeeded him the next in ye same subject. About the end of this month of June very good rye & wheat began to be reaped &c.’

One died of the plague


Alexander Hamilton Stephens,
lawyer and politician

‘Went to a party. Witnessed the new dance [the waltz] which disgusted me very much. Oh, the follies of man!’

Deprived of my liberty


Letitia Hargrave,
wife of colonist

‘In bed all day yesterday and great part of today. Ship pitching so that we could not dress. The most provoking part is that we have been beating about waiting till the Prince of Wales came out of Stornaway. Mr Hargrave and the Captain went on board of her lest any letters might have been forwarded there from Stromness, but only got a parcel of shortbread from Captain Royal for the ladies here. Nice food for 4 sea sick women. Never knew what sailing was before.’

York Factory lady


Simon Newcomb,

‘Arrived at Fort Garry at 10 1/2 o’clock a.m. Found Gov[ernor] Mactavish, who said that we should have to get our boat &c. at the “lower Fort,” 22 miles down. Opened our instruments, and took out sextant & spy glass. (Sir George Simpson, Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, had instructed William Mactavish. Governor of Assiniboia and officer-in-charge of Upper Fort Garry, to provide whatever assistance the eclipse party required in carrying out their scientific pursuits. Mactavish arranged for their transportation, albeit in a leaky canoe, as well as provisions, a guide and paddlers for the two crossings of Lake Winnipeg. On their return to Fort Garry, Mactavish then arranged for the party’s return by wagon-train over the plains to St. Paul.]’

Crossed a singular slough


William Henry Jackson,

‘Silvered paper in the morning and attended to printing all day. Not a good day for outside work so we did not make any negatives. Got along very well with printing & even after toning our pictures looked first-rate - but the fixing bathfixed them & we were very much disappointed, some of them turning out poorly. Printed up about 4 or 5 dozen. Shall probably get quite an order from McLelland for them. After supper sat in Sumner’s store listening to tough yarns from John & his brother of fighting scrapes &c. After taking a look in the Gold Room we retired early.’

Set up the box


Marie Bashkirtseff,
writer and artist

‘I have just been reading my journal for the years 1875, 1876, and 1877. I find it full of vague aspirations toward some unknown goal. My evenings were spent in wild and despairing attempts to find some outlet for my powers. Should I go to Italy? Remain in Paris? Marry? Paint? What should I strive to become? If I went to Italy, I should no longer be in Paris, and my desire was to be everywhere at once. What a waste of energy was there?

If I had been born a man, I would have conquered Europe. As I was born a woman, I exhausted my energy in tirades against fate, and in eccentricities. There are moments when one believes one’s-self capable of all things. ‘If I only had the time,’ I wrote, ‘I would be a sculptor, a writer, a musician!’

I am consumed by an inward fire, but death is the inevitable end of all things, whether I indulge in these vain longings or not. But if I am nothing, why these dreams of fame, since the time I was first able to think? Why these wild longings after a greatness that presented itself then to my imagination under the form of riches and honors? Why, since I was first able to think, since the time when I was four years old, have I had longings, vague but intense, for glory, for grandeur, for splendor?’

Bashkirtseff’s inward fire


Harry Kessler,
diplomat and writer

‘At half past twelve a private audience with the Pope. There were just the two of us and so I had the chance briefly to ventilate the questions which interest me. In these circumstances an even sharper edge was given to his deliberate diversion from the subject of the League, evading it with the words, ‘Ce n’est pas ici’ (meaning the Vatican) ‘que nous pouvons traiter cette question.’ The main thing, he emphasized, is ‘qu'il fallait mettre fin à la guerre’. He asked me, perhaps out of politeness, whether and what I had written on the subject of the League and, at the end, accorded me his Apostolic blessing on behalf of my efforts.’

Dined with the Einsteins


Earl Silas Tupper,

‘No matter how poets and song writers play up pagan existence and Midevial [sic] civilizations, I’ll still take modern civilization . . . and ultra modern civilization - the more advanced the better I’m for it.”

Tupper the tinkerer


Georges Simenon,

‘Four days ago - on the 21st - I finished a novel, number hundred-eighty-something, that I had wanted to be easy. Now on the first day I started to write, towards the 9th or 10th page, I’d had the sensation that it would be futile to go on to the end, that it would never come to life.

I was alone, as always when I write, in my office with the curtains closed. I walked around the room five or six times, and if it hadn’t had a sort of humanness, I would have torn up those few pages and waited a few days to begin a different novel.

This happens two or three times a year. This particular time, I was moved to tears. Then, without too much confidence, I returned to my machine. I think it may be the best of the Maigrets. I’ll know when I start editing. Since the Cannes Festival, I’ve wanted to write a novel filled with sun and tenderness. I had one in my head, for which the characters, the setting, were ready. Of that, I’ve only written three pages. It wasn’t a Maigret. The main characters were in their 30s. I realized later that in Maigret in Society, which in a sense replaced the abandoned novel, I expressed the same tenderness. . . but with characters who were all between 65 and 85.’

A peasant’s mind


Viktor Petrovich Savinykh,

‘Yesterday we were so tired I had neither the strength nor the time to write. I hardly got out of the supply ship. We changed out the water heater, flooded it with water, thoroughly washed out all the hoses and were soon drinking tea. After our exercises we had three packets of tea with milk. What a story!

Now the station resembles a train depot: packages, sacks, assemblies, containers of food. All this stuff that arrived and such excessive quantities. It forms an obstruction. Equipment arrived for going outside - we are beginning to put the stuff up and check it.”

Regarding dreams. For some reason the most frequent and most alarming dream is a search for some kind of hose or connector. You look and look but you just can’t seem to find it...’

Holiday on our Earth


Paul K. Lyons,

‘The heatwave continues. Cloudless blue skies. Warm languid evenings. Hot dusty days, watering-can days. Half the year nearly over.

B and I went up to Aldeburgh together for I’d bought two tickets for a film premiere at the quaint old cinema, one with a visit by some of the stars promised. The film we saw was another adaptation of an Elizabeth Bowen novel - The Heat of the Day. Dame Peggy Ashcroft has a cameo role, and it was she who graced the cinema with her presence. Though, seeing her there seated in front of us, we imagined her to have had a bigger role in the film. The main actors, Michael York, Patricia Hodge and Michael Gambon were not present. The little cinema was the fullest I’ve ever seen it, nine-tenths of the audience, however, were grey and white-haired old women. Calling the event a ‘world premiere’ was a little grand if understandable. In fact, the film has been made for the BBC, and is quite clearly a TV movie, many close-ups and small sets. It was well-made (screenplay by Harold Pinter).’

Happy days with Peggy


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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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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.