And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

25 May

1550
King Edward VI

‘The embassadours came to the court, where thei saw me take the oth for th’acceptation of the treaty, and afterward dined with me; and after diner saw a pastime of tenne against tenne at the ring, wherof on th’on(e) sid(e) were the duke of Sowthfolk, the vice-dam, the lord Lisle, and seven other gentlemen, appareled in yelow; on the other, the lord Stra(nge), mons. Henadoy, and yeight other, in blew.’

Edward VI, the Boy King

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1675
Robert Hooke,
scientist

‘At Dr. Busbys. With the King and shewd my watch with a magnet with which he was well pleased and Invited me to come to him. Dind at Busbys. At Dr. Hameys £10. At Dr. Whitakers. Fine children. Mayer and his wife at Storys. Went home. Severall Disputes with Tompion urged him forward with watch - the rest of the week I forgot but I received the Double pendulum Sea clock and had a box made by Coffin for it, I hung it by strings. I shewd it Tompion upon Sunday when I drank Dulwich water. And upon Monday I went to the King. I was introduced by Colonel Titus. The King very well pleased I knew not what to ask. He went into his closet. Tompion and Harry with me I shewd it Sir Chr. Wren. Sir Chr. Wren unwilling to let me have any money though Woodroof had £50, unwilling I should have any room in Gallery at Whitehall, would have thrust me into the park.’

Boglice round the neck

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1751
David Garrick,
actor and producer

‘I left my name at ye Ambassador’s (Lord Albemarle) & call’d upon M. Boyle we went this Evening to the Comedie Italliene & saw Marivaux’s fausse Suivante with an Entertainment of Dancing call’d Le May, the first was acted much better than L’Ecole des Maris but ye Dancing which was great Success & much approv’d of, would have been hiss’d off ye English Stage -’

Hiss’d off ye English Stage

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1912
Raymond Priestley
, teacher and explorer

‘Westerly wind with heavy drift continues, and we have been drifted up all day. This afternoon we had to do away with the blubber fires because of the smitch, for the drift kept on filling the chimney and preventing the draught from flowing. Afterwards Dickason started the hoosh over the primus, and this rapidly used up our limited supply of oxygen. First of all the reading-lamps went out and refused to be lighted with a flaring spill, and then the spill went out and could not be relighted at the primus. Next the primus went out and could not be relighted because the matches would not burn. By this time we were opening up the chimney and the drift at the entrance to the shaft, and Campbell drove his ice-axe through the latter with immediate relief to everybody. Since then things have gone pretty well, but we all have had bad headaches, which we had put down to the smitch, but which were more probably due directly to lack of oxygen. It is a great nuisance this new danger having arisen after we thought we had avoided the utmost malice of the weather, but it is lucky we were not caught at night and all asphyxiated in our beds. I suppose that the coating of ice which has formed on the inside of the snow-roof has spoiled the ventilation. After dinner Campbell and Abbot cleared the drift from the mouth of the shaft and pushed the flagstaff down the chimney.’

Vice-chancellor Priestley

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1940
Guy Liddell,
intelligence officer

‘The Director-General told me this morning that he had an interview with Neville Chamberlain who had questioned him on Fifth Columnists here. The Director-General told him that he was worried about Czechs and also about aliens. He then went on to see the Prime Minister. The latter was not available owing to a meeting, but Desmond Morton was there. It seems that the Prime Minister takes a strong view about the internment of all Fifth Columnists at this moment and that he has left the Home Secretary in no doubt about his views. What seems to have moved him more than anything was the Tyler Kent case.

At about 6 o’clock Stephens had a telephone message asking that he and I should go up to the Privy Council to see Clement Atlee and Arthur Greenwood. I could not understand how they had got hold of my name. Before going I rang up the Director-General to ask his permission. I told him that I proposed, if I were questioned about internment, to tell them exactly what I thought, and he agreed. Atlee and Greenwood gave me the impression that they thought there was some political intrigue or graft in the Home Office which was holding things up. I told them quite frankly that I did not think this was the case. I went over the whole ground, explained how enemy aliens had been let into this country free for a period of five years, how the War Book contained directions for their probably internment in categories immediately after the outbreak of the war and how Sir Samuel Hoare had reversed this policy early in September and substituted the tribunal system.

This has meant that the organisation of MI5 had been swamped and for the last six months had been engaged on work of relatively small importance which had largely been abortive. I said that in my view the reluctance of the Home Secretary to act came from an old-fashioned liberalism which seemed to prevail in all sections. The liberty of the subject, freedom of speech etc. were all very well in peace-time but were no use in fighting the Nazis. There seemed to be a complete failure to realise the power of the totalitarian state and the energy with which the Germans were fighting a total war. Both Greenwood and Atlee were in agreement with our views. They said that they had been charged by the Prime Minister to enquire into this matter.’

Liddell, Tyler and internment

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1997
Deborah Bull,
dancer

‘[Costa Mesa, California] Yesterday I set a new land speed record as the Bluebird in ‘Sleeping Beauty’. I do sometimes wonder what conductors are thinking of when they play around so much with the tempo. I don’t mind a bit of variety - spice of life and all that - but there comes a point when the choreography and the tempo can’t be reconciled, and the dancer, always at the mercy of the beat, is forced to compromise. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway) this conductor wasn’t one of ours.

Today I also broke new ground when I was applauded in the middle of a 45-second solo. The American audiences are much more vociferous about their feelings, and today they let it be known that they liked my pas de chats on to pointe in the ‘Violente’ solo. It cheered me up no end as I wasn’t particularly looking forward to switching solos. I feel much more at home in my normal variation, ‘Coulante’, but then I have been doing it for about twelve years.’

A laptop dancer

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1997
Alastair Campbell,
journalist

‘It was my birthday, and I got really nice letters from both Mum and Dad, with a cheque, saying how proud they were at what I’d done in helping win the election. I really must get up to see them soon. I’d been anxious throughout the campaign about Dad, and would never forgive myself if he suddenly died and I had not been up there enough. It was a fairly quiet day, though the Thatcher meeting went even bigger than I thought it would, leading the bulletins most of the day. I got a lovely call from Jim Callaghan, saying he would like to help and we fixed for him to do The World This Weekend, saying it was very sensible of TB to see her. TB called, worried I had stuck the Thatcher story in the paper, which I hadn’t. I was pretty sure Peter had put the Clinton/Cabinet story to Grice and once he realised the Sunday Telegraph had the Thatcher story, he gave that to Andy Grice as well. He was talking to the press far too much and was getting on my nerves again. TB was still thinking away re the European agenda and worrying about how we would get a deal in Amsterdam that would be a clear-cut success. He was at Chequers having a couple of quiet days before we headed for Paris.’

All work and no play

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1998
Alastair Campbell,
journalist

‘It was a fairly quiet day. I put together a briefing re the Japanese emperor’s visit. I said TB wanted him given a warm welcome, that we had to look to the future not the past, added to all the stuff re economic ties etc. Nishimura called me to say the emperor and the Japanese government would be very happy with it. It would almost certainly mean a good kicking from the tabs, especially maybe the Mirror who would be on the lookout for revenge re the Clinton article. TB was fine with it though and felt we had to push a positive line through the whole trip. I went to see Ellie in hospital then took the kids to the fair in Hampstead. The story in NI was focusing too much on decommissioning.’

All work and no play

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2002
Alastair Campbell,
journalist

‘Birthday. Forty-five today. The herald for a weekend of gloom. Feeling really down again. Best thing was that Rory was running in the South of England qualifiers, so he and I went out to Watford. Fiona had bought me a pedometer and I ran for over an hour to get it working. The Roy Keane/Mick McCarthy drama was for some reason really draining me too, even though I knew neither of them well. I felt a real sense of empathy with Keane, felt he was driven but also haunted by demons, depression, violence, an inability to share all the same emotions as everyone seemed to have around the big moments. TB, coincidentally, said he had had friends over for dinner, one of whom asked what I was like. TB said he is the Roy Keane in the operation, driven, doesn’t suffer fools, expects everyone to match his own standards, flawed but brilliant.’

All work and no play

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2004
Alastair Campbell,
journalist

‘47th birthday, and I was hoping that my resting pulse rate would be the same as, or lower than my age. I missed it by one - 48, which was still pretty bloody good. I spent most of the morning working on a speech for Qatar, and fixing to see Ian Botham at the Test Match in Leeds.’

All work and no play

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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.

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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.