And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

23 March

955
Ki no Tsurayuki,
writer

‘That evening as he went up to the Capital, he saw in the shops at Yamasaki the little boxes painted with pictures and the rice-cakes twisted into the shape of conch shells, just the same as ever; and he wondered if the hearts of shopkeepers also were the same. [. . .] Planning to arrive at the Capital by night, he did not hasten. The moon had risen, and he crossed the Katsura River in bright moonlight. [. . .] He recited this also:

Once Katsura’s Stream
Seemed to me as far away
As the clouds of heaven
Now, while crossing, I perceive
It has wet my dipping sleeve.

And again he composed this:
Well I know my heart
And the River Katsura
Never were alike:
Yet in depth my heart would seem
Not unlike the flowing stream.

These too many verses are due to his excessive pleasure at reaching the Capital.’

The earliest literary diary

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1847
George Brinton McClellan,
soldier

‘Firing continued from our mortars steadily - fire of enemy by no means so warm as when we opened on the day before. Our mortar platforms were much injured by the firing already. The 24 pounder battery had to be re-revetted entirely - terreplein levelled. During this day and night the magazine was excavated, and the frame put up. Two traverses made the positions of platforms and embrasures determined. Two platforms laid and the guns run in the embrasures for them being partly cut. One other gun was run to the rear of the battery.’

McClellan’s war in Mexico

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1909
William Butler Yeats,
writer

‘March 23d. McDonagh called to-day. Very sad about Ireland. Says that he finds a barrier between himself and the Irish-speaking peasantry, who are “cold, dark and reticent” and “too polite”. He watches the Irish-speaking boys at his school, and when nobody is looking, or when they are alone with the Irish-speaking gardener, they are merry, clever and talkative. When they meet an English speaker or one who has learned Gaelic, they are stupid. They are a different world. Presently, he spoke of his nine years in a monastery and I asked what it was like, “Oh” he said, “everybody is very simple and happy enough. There is a little jealousy sometimes. If one brother goes into town with a Superior, another brother is jealous.” ’

The poet’s labour

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1944
Dawn Powell,
writer

‘For a writer or artist there is nothing to equal the elation of escaping into solitude. The excited feeling of stolen rapture I feel on closing the door of this little room up here, knowing no one can find me, no one will speak to me. I look over rooftops into sky and far-off towers. This is exactly like my sensation of sheer exhilaration as a child when I got up into the attic or in the treetop or under a tree way off by the road where I was alone with a sharp pencil and notebook.’

Powell’s diaries auctioned

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1998
Deborah Bull,
dancer

‘Another year older. I have just filled in a survey on the tube and noticed that I have moved one box further in the great pigeon hole of life. I can no longer tick the 25-34 age group. I’ve moved into the 35-44 bracket. Blimey. How did that happen? Last time I looked I was 21.

I have also realised with a jolt that table dancing is out of the question as an alternative career. Today I bought The Stage, whose arts news has been bang on this year, in an effort to find word about the implications for us of Gordon Brown’s budget. No luck, so I flicked through the employment pages instead. All the adverts seeking dancers (mostly for cruise liners and clubs) stipulate that applicants must be under the age of 35. I’ve missed my chance. I guess I’m more of a laptop dancer than a lap dancer, so it’s no great hardship. I suppose there’s always a career for me as a touch typist.

I’m on my way home from a meeting with Sir Richard Eyre; the name becomes flesh at last. He’s a strikingly good-looking man with such an air of weariness that I wanted to gather him up and take him home for a hot dinner. I was suprised to have been asked to contribute to the ongoing debate over the Opera House’s future which will form the basis of his report. But apparently various people had assured him that he really must hear what I had to say on the matter.’

A laptop dancer

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2003
Clare Short,
politician

‘. . . terrible week - decided to stay in the Gov - horrendous media and bitter disappointment to all who were buoyed by my threat to resign.’

No. 10 hostile to me

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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.