And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

3 June

1803
Thomas De Quincey,
writer

‘Rise between 11 and 12 - go to W’s; - read out “Henry the Fourth”; (part 1st) which Mrs. E. pronounces “a very pretty play.” Almost immediately after this is finished . . . dinner is announced; - I go without seeing Mr. W.; walk, by French prison and lane, to windmill on shore; - turn back along shore; cross over to French prison; - go to C’s; - dine there again by myself; - open a volume of the Encyclopaedia; read 2 pages of the life of Frederick the Great of Prussia . . . containing the origin of his acquaintance with Voltaire - his mode of spending the time as described by Voltaire; then read the article “French” (language) in the same volume; - open no other book; - go to W’s; ring and ask if the ladies are really gone, as they talked of doing, to Mossley; - find they are gone in spite of the rain; - walk to Everton; - find postman at door; - decypher a letter; - lend Miss B. 2s 3d to pay the postage of one; - the other (2s 2d) she leaves unpaid, though I offered to lend her the money; - both come from the coast of Africa; - Miss B. seems wild with joy; - has received money I suppose; I drink coffee.’

My imagination flies

**************************************************************************************

1849
John Ruskin,
writer and art critic

‘I walked up this afternoon to Bloney, very happy, and yet full of some sad thought; how perhaps I should not be again among these lovely scenes; as I was now and ever had been, a youth with his parents - it seemed that the sunset of to-day sunk upon me like the departure of youth.

First I had a hot march among the vines, and between their dead stone walls. Once or twice I flagged a little, and began to think it tiresome; then I put my mind into the scene, instead of suffering the body only to make report of it; and looked at it with the possession-taking grasp of the imagination - the true one; it gilded all the dead walls, and I felt a charm in every vine tendril that hung over them. It required an effort to maintain the feeling; it was poetry while it lasted, and I felt that it was only while under it that one could draw, or invent, or give glory to, any part of such a landscape. I repeated, ‘I am in Switzerland’ over and over again, till the name brought back the true group of associations, and I felt I had a soul, like my boy’s soul, once again. I have not insisted enough on this source of all great contemplative art. The whole scene without it was but sticks and stones and steep dusty road.’

John Ruskin’s birthdays

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1902
Paul Klee,
artist

‘The main thing now is not to paint precociously but to be, or at least become, an individual. The art of mastering life is the prerequisite for all further forms of expression, whether they are paintings, sculptures, tragedies, or musical compositions.’

Colour possesses me

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1925
A C Benson,
teacher and writer

‘College photograph. I liked my handsome friendly well-mannered young men very much, and felt proud of them. Lunched [. . .] then out with Manning . . . We found a chalk-pit above Harlton [. . .] with a little wood above it, and winding paths and tiny glades - such a little paradise. We wound through it and came out on the wold - the air full of golden sunlight, and a honied breeze, with scents of clover and beans; afar lay Cambridge, very hazy, with smoke going up; down below little quaint house-roofs and orchard-closes, full of buttercup and hemlock. A sweet hour. . .’ [This is one of Benson’s last diary entries, since he died two weeks later.]

A C Benson’s inner life

**************************************************************************************

1977
Leonid Brezhnev,
politician

‘Received Chernenko - signed minutes worked with Galya Doroshina Rest - flew to Zavidovo - 5 boars.’

To every historian’s despair

**************************************************************************************

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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.