And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

18 May

1675
Robert Hooke,
scientist

‘At Sir J. Mores. Player and Oliver Dogs. at Holburne conduit. - in quest of Sir Chr: Wren at Lords house. Mr. Colwall walked with Titus. Gave Grace chocolatt. Discoursed with Sir Chr: Wren. Noe money but to contribute towards his losse by wells and account. Dind with Boyl. Walkd with Scarborough in the park. Met with Montacue. Told Sir Christopher my Longitude inventions. Met the King in the Park. he shewd watch, affirmed it very good.’

Boglice round the neck

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1841
Edward John Eyre,
explorer and administrator

‘This morning we had to travel upon a soft heavy beach, and moved slowly and with difficulty along, and three of the horses were continually attempting to lie down on the road. At twelve miles, we found some nice green grass, and although we could not procure water here, I determined to halt for the sake of the horses. The weather was cool and pleasant. From our camp Mount Ragged bore N. 35 degrees W., and the island we had seen for the last two days, E. 18 degrees S. Having seen some large kangaroos near our camp, I sent Wylie with the rifle to try and get one. At dark he returned bringing home a young one, large enough for two good meals; upon this we feasted at night, and for once Wylie admitted that his belly was full. He commenced by eating a pound and a half of horse-flesh, and a little bread, he then ate the entrails, paunch, liver, lights, tail, and two hind legs of the young kangaroo, next followed a penguin, that he had found dead upon the beach, upon this he forced down the whole of the hide of the kangaroo after singeing the hair off, and wound up this meal by swallowing the tough skin of the penguin; he then made a little fire, and laid down to sleep, and dream of the pleasures of eating, nor do I think he was ever happier in his life than at that moment.’

Along the Rocky river

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1853
Peter Hawker,
soldier and hunter

‘A beautiful day. Crossed to Yarmouth, and got driven to Freshwater for the fine sea air, but too weak to walk along the cliffs. Lots of ‘gents’ popping at rock birds and rifling the cormorants, and rookeries being stormed inland. All to tantalise me, like the gents having good sport angling the other day in view of my windows at Longparish, and I too ill to go out.’

A life spent hunting

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1882
Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff,
politician

‘Daud Shah, the late Commander-in-Chief of the Afghan Army, one of the handsomest and most gigantic men I ever saw, dined with us. In the evening, someone showed him a picture of Mecca, in a recent number of the Graphic. He asked, “Where is the Caaba?” And, on its being pointed out to him, lifted it to his forehead and kissed it.’

Good-natured books

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1916
Arthur Graeme West,
writer

‘A hot day. We did fire-control all the time under the Adjutant, Brigade Officer, &c. One noted, first, their utter inability to teach us anything because there were too many superannuated old martinets trying to do it at the same time; secondly, the lack of doctrine among them all: even if they could have taught, they knew nothing. The way we were taught musketry was laughable. The whole Company was kept in close order, echeloned in half-companies at twenty paces, and moved up and down the field first in single rank, then in ordinary close formation, finally halted in echelon, and given fire-orders by the Platoon Commander and Sectional Commanders, with front rank kneeling, rear rank standing; the C.O. meanwhile stood in the background for a long time, checking people in a peevish ineffectual way for minor irrelevances. It was always the same thing with us; we had three men shouting at us at once when we were on parade, each one eager to outshine the others in his keenness in detecting faults and the strength and accuracy of his denunciation of the offender. It was always impossible to please them all, and when one had you alone he was sure to scold you for methods on which the others had been fondly insistent. Our instructors, and even our officers, were not above confessing that they didn’t know the drill which they were supposed to be there to teach us.’

Shambles in the dug-outs

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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, 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.