And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

29 May

1550
King Edward VI

‘The embassadours had a fair souper made them by the duke of Somerset, and afterward went into the tems (on the Thames) and saw both the beare hunted in the river, and also wilfier cast out of botis, and many prety conceites.’

Edward VI, the Boy King

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1775
Ezra Stiles,
priest

‘Early this morning at IVh 50’ my Dear Wife Elizabeth Stiles departed this Life aetat. 44. It is a day of great Grief & Distress, such I never before knew. Merciful God support me by thy Grace.

My Wife Elizabeth Stiles was the oldest Daughter of Col. John Hubbard of New Haven & Elizabeth his first Wife, where she was born July 3, 1731, O. S. Her Mother was a Woman of Ten Thousand for Sense, Discretion, Resolution & true Greatness: and died 1744 Aug 25, aet. 42. Her Father was an ingenious sensible Man, of a fine Taste for Poetry & polite Writings, and an eminent Physician. She inherited the Quintessence of both Parents - the Discernment Sagacity & Sensibility (but not the scientific Taste) of her Father, with the Nobleness & true Greatness of Spirit the Resolution, Discretion, Prudence, Economy & Judg of her Mother. She was thro’ some Hardships in youth bro’t up to Industry, spinning & all parts of female Industry. From her Infancy to her Mothers death she was educated delicately, kept to School for Sewing & Needle Work: afterwards from aet. 14 to her Marriage she was accustomed to all the Variety of Business in female Life, which qualified her for the Scene of usefulness she exhibited at Newport. Directed by the supreme Lord of the Universe I was bro’t to make Choice of her for a Wife. We were married Febry. 10, 1757. It pleased Gd to give us Eight Children, of whom seven are now living. In 1753 aet. 21½ she gave up herself to Jesus in the Profession of the Faith & came to the Lords Table. And ever since has continued a steady Christian, walking before Gd with fear, Conscientiousness, Integrity & Reverence. She had an Aversion to Fraud & Dishonesty & never could bear Hypocrisy in any. She was perhaps unexampled for her Love of Integrity. She had the highest the sublimest Conceptions of the personal Excellency of the divine Emanuel, whom she accounted the chief among 10 Thousds & altogether lovely. [. . .]’

Great grief and distress

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1816
William Bentley,
priest

‘I went this morning to see the Elephant now on a visit to this town. I went in the morning when I might examine him without any of the tricks he has been taught to play. I saw nothing pleasing in the form or wonderful in his endowments. His surprising volume will be contemplated with astonishment. His place in Creation is yet to be assigned. Mr. Dane told me he had seen an Ox of 3 th. pounds who was a much nobler animal to survey but that enormous volume did not give but half the weight of this Animal tho it gave 3/4. of its height & not much short of its length. The Elephant is 13 feet round the body. What must our mammoth be?’

Society in Salem

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1871
Francis Turner Palgrave,
civil servant and poet

‘All to Stokesay Castle, a singularly perfect specimen of domestic residence temp. Edward I. The site of this small ancient relic, lovely amid green wooded hills and mountainesque horizon - indebted much to the haze of an exquisite summer day. Thence to Ludlow: the castle here of all dates, is as fine as that uncomfortable thing, a ruin, ever can be.’

Professor of poetry

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1877
Alfred Domett,
prime minister and poet

‘Went to London Library. A meeting of members was being held up-stairs . . . I stood by the door while Gladstone was speaking near the fire place. Gladstone, a dusky-complexioned spare middle-sized man, with grey hair, thin and straggling; eyes very black and rather bright; earnest expression; with a sort of approach to a slouch in his manner and bearing. He spoke fluently but not at all rapidly; sentences rather winding and long drawn out like honey you must twist the spoon to break off. When he had spoken, an old benevolent looking aquiline-nosed stooping man (the Archbishop of Dublin) made a few remarks, in the course of which, Gladstone quietly took his hat and sloped out stealing close by me to the door.’

Browning’s friend Domett

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1902
Victor Trump,
sportsman

‘England won toss. As usual ran about all day . . . very tired. Wrote letters home.’

Ran about all day

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1929
Aleš Hrdlička,
scientist

‘Yukon. Skagway to White Horse, over mountain railway, skirting the famous tragic old trail to the Klondike region, which has witnessed vast human exertions and sufferings. Pass by one of the very sources of the mighty river that flows tor 2,700 miles from its source northward and then westward.

From White Horse, a pleasing little Canadian town, a neat river boat takes us to Dawson, where there will be change to a larger steamer. On the boat, after one bad night, must ask for a cabin well apart from my associate - what will it be when we must sleep closer!

Boat steams day and night, for nearly four days, with the current, through man-void wilderness. As we near Dawson see many caribou trails on steep slopes to the right. Have a bear steak for lunch, moose meat for supper - local specialties. And one day see a live full-sized black bear far on a great slope. Not much disturbed - too far for a shot - boat just whistles at him but he does not mind.’

Hrdlička’s Alaska diary

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1979
Edward Abbey,
writer

‘Visitors come and visitors go. Some sonofabitch shit on the floor of our shithouse. Swine. So I’ll have to lock that one up too.

Renee was here for a couple of days. Tells me we’re through; she’s bored with our marriage (‘lacks intensity’) and fed up with me - says I’m away too much, that I don’t talk to her when I am with her, that I’m indifferent, that I don’t love her etc. She suspects me of fooling around with other women; doesn’t trust me. Says she wants out. Wants a divorce . . .’

As big as the West

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1997
William Burroughs,
writer

‘Life review is not orderly account from conception to death. Rather, fragments -
(Telephone - my eyeglasses are ready.)
“You can keep quite comfortable on codeine.”
- from here and there:
“He looks like a sheep killing dog.”
- Said about me by Politte Elvins, Kells’s father, who later went nuts with paresis. [He’d] been treating himself: “Doctors are just mechanics.”
“Take Beano for the measles, you pay two dollars down.”
- Old song heard at Los Alamos campfire sing, from Henry Bosworth.

I hate that son of a bitch, if he still lives anywhere. He called me “a goddamn worthless little pup.”
I hanged him in effigy by the big square fireplace in the Big House. I had used a statue of a Boy Scout, with the message around his neck: “Bozzy Bitch, goddamn him.”
(Now he later was fired for fooling with the boys, especially the Marsden family - Bob Marsden was a right bitch in his own right.)

A. J. found out about it:
“Yes,” he said, “I know everybody who got up that night.”
He had his network of snitches.
“What’s the safest place in the U.S., Billy?” he needled me, and Connell says: “Where you are.”
(Suppose you are on death row? I guess Fort Knox is about the safest place, offhand - all that gold. Or maybe a vault in Zurich, tended by gnomes.)
It was out by the sawdust pile, caughted fire and been smoldering for years like a mattress.

Recollect in New Orleans Joan set her bed on fire with a cigarette. I was the one woke up. We pour a wastebasket full of water down one hole, and it starts smoking down the other end. Took four metal wastebaskets to quell the fire, and it took $50 to quench the landlady.

Dropped my drink into a wastebasket at the sight of a Glock double trigger.
If they would -’

Beat writer’s last months

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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.