And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

5 March

John Evelyn,

‘I went to see the ceremony. Never was so universal a mourning; all the Parliament men had cloaks given them, and four hundred poor women; all the streets hung and the middle of the street boarded and covered with black cloth. There were all the nobility, mayor, aldermen, judges, etc.’ [Queen Mary II had died of smallpox two months earlier.]

A most excellent person


John Byrom,
poet and landowner

‘Went to Mr Johnson’s, where I dined upon potted hare, very good; thence to George’s, where I saw Mr Sanderson, Pennant, and Coatsworth; thence to Mr Nicholls, writ out some of Finch’s speech to Queen Elizabeth, he would have had me write it all out, but I would not; Hunt told me his affairs succeeded very well; home near nine, had a fire made, stayed up reading Collin’s Enquiry concerning Human Liberty, sat up till near two.’

Byrom’s universal shorthand


John Baker,

‘We stayed from 6 to past 10, in which time Garrick came out 6 or 7 times and talked to audience, tho’ often 5 or 6 minutes before he could be heard. Once he said the author was willing to withdraw his play, but then the party for Kelly [Hugh Kelly, the playwrite] said he had no right so to do; they insisted on the play to be given out, one party calling out for the new play and the other against it. When King [Thomas King, the most famous actor of the time] came on, being called for to speak Prologue, the hubbub forced him back, and one or two oranges struck him. The people came away in great numbers after ten and we among the rest, and had our money returned.’

Ham at window


William Bentley,

‘General Catalogue of Social Library in Salem, as taken from L. Books [appearing in the original is here omitted.]. This Catalogue is taken almost literally from the Catalogue shewn me in the Library by Master Noyes (& tho’ it is very badly arranged), being short, it may be read over in a few minutes. The Library has been collected for some time. There have been no additions to it since the War, deserving of notice. In the War a Library including Phil. Transactions, &c. was taken, going to Canada, which has laid the foundation of a distinct Philosophical Library & this is the object of present attention.’

Society in Salem


Hermann Ludwig von Löwenstern,

‘The feeling is oppressive to be admonished to pay when one has no money. My music master asked me today for two dahlias, which I owe him for past hours. I had to turn him down, and request his patience. I do not have a heller in cash, and I do not know where I should get the money in order to pay my old teacher.’

At sea with Von Löwenstern


Thomas Raikes,

‘A melancholy event indeed my poor friend Henry B. destroyed himself this morning in his room at Limmer’s Hotel, Conduit Street. Continued losses at play and other pecuniary embarrassments drove him to despair, and he cut his own throat, after shaving and dressing himself completely, while the breakfast was preparing by his servant. It was an infatuation of long standing; his father had twice paid his debts to a large amount, and they were unfortunately not on speaking terms for some time past. His poor mother was burnt to death not two months ago, and he never saw her in her last moments. This sad event, and the recollection of his intimate friend, who last year drowned himself in the Serpentine from the same dreadful cause, most probably accelerated this catastrophe. He left no letter to any one, merely the following words, scribbled on the back of a kind note which he had received the preceding evening from his friend the Duke of Dorset: “I cannot pray, and am determined to rush unbidden into the presence of my God!” What a sickening thought.’

A mania for gossip


Ivan Bunin,

‘I went to Nikolaevsky Station. It was very sunny out, almost too much so, with a light frost. From the hill behind Myasnitsky Gates - I saw a blue-grey haze, clusters of homes, and the golden cupolas of churches. Ah, Moscow! Snow was melting on the square in front of the station. The entire place shone like gold, mirrorlike. I was taken by the massive, powerful sight of carts with boxes on them. Can it really be that all this power, this wealth is coming to an end? There were a great many peasants, soldiers in many kinds of old overcoats, wearing them any old way, and with various types of weapons - one had a saber at his side, another had a rifle, another had a huge revolver in his belt . . . These are now the masters of everything, the heirs of colossal heritage . . .’

Flying into an abyss


Pierre Gilliard,

‘Yesterday the soldiers, with a hang-dog look (for they felt it was a mean task), began to destroy the snow mountain with picks. The children are disconsolate.’

State of mental anguish


Bruce Lockhart,

‘Lunched with Beaverbrook and then came up to London with Jean Norton by car. . .

In evening dined with Hugh Walpole at Arnold Bennett’s house, 75 Cadogan Square. Arnold Bennett very kind about my book. Michael Arlen, T. S. Eliot, the poet and editor of the Criterion, E. Knoblock, also there.

Yesterday and today broke my pledge.’

Secret agent in Moscow


Tony Benn,

‘A week ago, I thought I might be out of Parliament altogether and now I am in the Cabinet as a Secretary of State for Industry. I feel I have to keep the hopes of the Left alive and alight. The job is enormous and the press is entirely hostile and will remain so. I have to recognise that in putting forward my proposals to the Cabinet, all will be opposed; but there are four powerful Secretaries of State on the left - myself, Michael Foot, Peter Shore and Eric Varley - and we are a formidable team.’

The hopes of the Left


Dirk Bogarde,

5 March 1983.

‘Day of triumph! F. walks round Serpentine with strength and a stick and enjoys the air, the Brent geese, and the snowdrops in the Dell.’

Forwood valiant and brave


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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.

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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, several times a week. Now over ten years old, The Diary Review is the secondary source for the extracts in this online anthology.