And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

2 May

1833
Gideon Mantell,
doctor and fossil hunter

‘Received a copy of my Geology of the S. East of England from the publishers and am much pleased with the style in which it is brought out. Received on Sunday a beautiful present of polished fossil woods from Dr Henry of Manchester. Yesterday sent a parcel to London - wrote to Earl of Egremont, on behalf of poor Archer the artist, whose painting of the King’s visit to Lewes, is still on his hands; to the great honor! of the loyal and liberal inhabitants of Lewes! What a precious set!’

Gideon Mantell - geologist

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1834
Alexander Hamilton Stephens,
lawyer and politician

‘The other day, as I was coming from my boarding-house in a cheerful brisk walk, I was laid low in the dust by hearing the superintendent of a shoe-shop ask a workman, “Who is that little fellow that walks so fast by here every day?” with the reply in a sarcastic tone, “Why, that’s a lawyer!” ’

Deprived of my liberty

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1908
Wilbur Wright,
aviator

‘We spent a comfortable night, the air being more quiet than the preceding night. We spent the day on actuating devices, &c. As this is all new work it takes much time. Charley worked most of the day on track and finished up a dozen rails each about 14 ft. long. The sitting position for the operators will probably be more comfortable but will require practice before we can tackle high winds. The N.Y. Herald has telegraphed the Weather Bureau operator at Manteo for information regarding us. Mr. Dosher also telephoned the K.D. Station today for information. He evidently had been asked by some paper to get news.’

Famous flight at Le Mans

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1916
Maurice Hankey,
civil servant

‘Spent morning preparing notes for P.M.’s speech to introduce compulsion for married men. P.M. was very “short” when I saw him and obviously hated the job. I dropped into the House after lunching at the Club and heard the speech. It was not a very good one - not so good as the one I gave him. The House was astonishingly cold. The fact was that the people who want compulsory service don’t want Asquith, while those who want Asquith don’t want compulsory service; so he fell between two stools! It is really an astonishing situation. The only real military case for the Bill is the great offensive. For an ordinary campaign there are heaps of men. That is to say we could fight the whole summer and lose men on the same scale as we lost them last year, which included Gallipoli, Neuve Chapelle, Loos and Festubert, and still have 50,000 men up our sleeve at the end of the year. But the Army want a regular orgy of slaughter this summer, and it is for this that they demand the extra men. Thus the Cabinet have yielded to a demand based solely on carrying out the plan for a great offensive, a plan which no member of the Cabinet and none of the regimental soldiers who will have to carry it out believe in, a plan conceived in the heads of the red-hatted, brass-bound brigade behind, who know little of the conditions at the actual front and are out of touch with real regimental opinion. It is alleged that we must do this thing to save the Russians - yet the French did it all last summer, with the result that they are now bled white and have no reserves left. . . Yet we are asked by the “scientific” soldier to repeat the process, notwithstanding that it may jeopardise the financial stability of this country on which the whole future of the Allies rests! Strongly though I feel on this matter I find it extraordinarily difficult to take any action, because I am not the constitutional military adviser of the government. Yet I have my own plan, which I have communicated to Robertson and Robertson to Haig, and which I am certain must succeed . . . Came home much depressed.’

Dreadful meetings

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1926
Richard E. Byrd,
explorer

‘Worked all night on beach to get plane ready but had bright sunlight. Built little hanger of [illegible]. Took lunch with Amundsen who professes great friendship but gave Lt. Balchen (who is a peach and wanted to help us and has helped us) orders not to come near us again.’

Flying over the Poles

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1958
Carolina Maria de Jesus,
rubbish collector

‘I’m not lazy. There are times when I try to keep up my diary. But then I think it’s not worth it and figure I’m wasting my time.

I’ve made a promise to myself. I want to treat people that I know with more consideration. I want to have a pleasant smile for children and the employed.

I received a summons to appear at 8pm at police station number 12. I spent the day looking for paper. At night my feet pained me so I couldn’t walk. It started to rain. I went to the station and took Jose Carlos with me. The summons was for him. Jose Carlos is nine years old.’

There’s nothing to eat

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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.

SITE DEVISED by Paul K Lyons

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.