And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

1 November

François de Bassompierre,

‘Sunday, the 1st of November, and All Saints Day. I performed my devotions, and afterwards was to see the Duchess of Lennox and Secretary Couvai. A council was held to-day for my business.’

Bassompierre in London


Fredrika Bremer,
writer and reformer

‘Another day, another revolution of light and shade. Enjoy thy existence, sayest thou, holy dawn of morning, animating glance of love, beam of God! Thou wakest me once more from my darkness, givest me a day, a new existence, a little life. Thou lookest upon me in this light and sayest, follow the moments! They scatter in their flight, light and flowers; they conceal themselves in clouds, but only to shine forth again all the lovelier; follow them, and let not the shade find thee before thou hast begun to live!

Thus thought I with a great, home-departed spirit, as in the dawn of morning I awoke and saw the beam of daylight penetrating into my chamber, and involuntarily stretched forth my arms to meet it. It was neither bright nor cheerful ; it was the misty beam of a November day, but still light from the light which brightened my life’s-day, and I greeted it with love. . .’

Enjoy thy existence


Thomas Creevey,
lawyer and politician

‘We were at the Pavilion last night - Mrs Creevey’s three daughters and myself - and had a very pleasant evening. We found there Lord and Lady Charlemont, Marchioness of Downshire and old Lady Sefton. About half-past nine, which might be a quarter of an hour after we arrived, the Prince came out of the dining-room. He was in his best humour, bowed and spoke to all of us, and looked uncommonly well, tho’ very fat. He was in his full Field Marshal’s uniform. He remained quite as cheerful and full of fun to the last - half-past twelve - asked after Mrs Creevey’s health, and nodded and spoke when he passed us. The Duke of Cumberland was in the regimentals of his own Hussars, looked really hideous, everybody trying to be rude to him - not standing when he came near them. The officers of the Prince’s regiment had all dined with him, and looked very ornamental monkeys in their red breeches with gold fringe and yellow boots. The Prince’s band played as usual all the time in the dining-room till 12, when the pages and footmen brought about iced champagne punch, lemonade and sandwiches. I found more distinctly than before, from conversation with the Gyps, that Wellington and Portugal are going down.

The Prince looked much happier and more unembarrassed by care than I have seen him since this time six years. This time five years ago, when he was first in love with Lady Hertford, I have seen the tears run down his cheeks at dinner, and he has been dumb for hours, but now that he has the weight of the empire upon him, he is quite alive. . . I had a very good conversation with Lord Charlemont about Ireland, and liked him much. He thinks the Prince has already nearly ruined himself in Irish estimation by his conduct to the Catholics.’

Dining at the Pavilion


David Cargill,

‘This morning a little after break of day, I was surprised to hear the sound of voices talking very loudly, near the front fence of the Mission premises, and going out to ascertain the cause of their noise found a human head in our garden. This was the head of the old man whose body had been abused on the beach. The arm of the body had been broken by a bullet, wh. passed through the bone near the shoulder, & the upper part of the skull had been knocked off with a club. The head had been thrown into our garden during the night, with the intention no doubt of annoying us and shocking our feelings. The victims of war were brought from Verata, & were killed by the Bau people. 260 human beings were killed & brought away by victors to be roasted and eaten. Many women & children were taken alive to be kept for slaves. About 30 living children were hoisted up to the mast head as flags of triumph. The motions of the canoes when sailing soon killed the helpless creatures, & silenced their piercing cries. Other children were taken alive to Bau that the boys might learn the art of Fijian warfare by firing arrows @ them and beating them with clubs.

As far as I can learn, the war originated with the Bau people. Some time ago they killed three Verata men as sacrifices during the building of a temple. The Verata men revenged the injury by killing five Bau men. And thus the war commenced. A fortnight ago a party of Bau men pillaged many of the plantations of Verata, & killed several persons: and this week they went in greater numbers, - ravaged part of the territories of the king of Verata, burned two settlements, killed 260 human beings, and brought away many prisoners. For two days they have been tearing and devouring one another like wolves and hyaenas. O that a door of usefulness were opened in these parts of Feejee, that we might publish the glad tidings of the advent of the Prince of Peace. In the meanwhile, they will not listen to our report. But they are in the hands of God. . .’

Like wolves and hyaenas


Raja Varma,

‘This evening we removed to a bungalow on the Gamdevi Road near the fire engine, as Kalbadevi Road was too noisy and crowded to be agreeable for residence. The new residence requires a lot of cleaning.’

Painting with brother


Sergei Prokofiev,

‘When I arrived in New York [. . .] a letter from London was waiting for me, proposing a production of Three Oranges at Covent Garden in June. Now this is an event of truly enormous importance! A year ago I entered into correspondence with Bakst trying to get Three Oranges produced in the autumn season in Europe, but it came to nothing because Bakst was relying on Diaghilev, and I already knew that there would be no resurrection (at least in the operatic sense) for Diaghilev in that season. But now Coates, the clever fellow, has had the excellent sense to take up the idea. It if works, then hurrah! in six months I shall have a quick and brilliant entrée into Europe.’

Finishing Three Oranges


Edward Weston,

‘The exhibit is over. The naked balcony walls presented a sad and stripped void as we glanced back to be assured no print was forgotten; but no time for tears, for already a new exhibit is on! Tina and I for the first time are showing together; indeed, it is her first public showing, and I am proud of my dear “apprentice.” We went directly from the “Aztec Land” and under the auspices of the Secretaria de Education Publica hung ten prints each in the Palacio de Mineria. It is a big affair: Rafael, Chariot, Felipe among our friends are also showing.’

Lost behind my camera


Zorina Gray,

‘Made the acquaintance of Igor Markevitch, who is slightly mad, and who reminds me of Kyra Nijinsky in temperament. What is even stranger is that he knows her and said that Kyra has long, blond curls, which I find crazy, and that she expects a child!’

My knees felt like macaroni


David Gascoyne,

‘And here (for the time being, at any rate), I close this journal. It has served its purpose. The most profound of the many intuitions I have recorded in it have all come ‘true’. The ploughing and the sowing have borne harvest. My life has passed on to another plane.

I am full of a great wonder and astonishment, and of exaltation. The world is very deep, the War is horrifying; yet the Future of this Century has begun to burn with an extraordinary, unseen and secret radiance, which I feel I can no longer speak of here, since it has become my task to proclaim it to those to whom it has not yet appeared May I be granted the grace not to fail or become discouraged before the purpose and responsibility of a new life.’ [This is the last entry in Paris Journal.]

The poet’s destiny


Gotthard Heinrici,

‘For the second time our aeroplanes have dropped bread. How much help is that? It is like a drop in the ocean. What we need is (1) supplies being transported by train via Kosiolsk, (2) catching up with the motorized troops, (3) petrol.

We will not get all of it. We cannot even get a Storch here. We have no connection to the divisions. We are in a fix, helpless. We have never experienced a situation like this. The weather does not change at all. It is warm and wet all the time. We hope for frost, but it is always raining. Then the roads are impassable at once. We’ve been stuck in this bloody backwater for eight days. Bugs and lice are our roommates. There is no hope for an improvement of supplies. We live from the land. We bake our own bread. What the men miss most is that they no longer have any drink rations like coffee or tea, and they have to survive on soups. Otherwise they are not too bad. They just eat everything they find here. But this, again, is limited. Some items are already running short, for instance oats.’

What we need . . .


Jimmy Boyle,
prisoner and sculptor

‘I was taken to the gate where I waited for Sarah. These were the longest minutes of all. The gate officer said Mr Hills had called to say he was coming in. I stood on edge. Mr Hills drove in the gate. He didn’t look at me. He didn’t speak. Sarah arrived. Mr Hills gave the signal and the duty officer opened the gate. I stepped over to Freedom.’

This violent typewriter


Paul Gambaccini,
writer and broadcaster

‘The press cordon is still in full effect. We cheer whenever it rains. A tabloid website names me in the afternoon. The BBC goes with the story of my identification on its 6pm newscasts.

I am off air indefinitely.’

Happy birthday, Gambaccini


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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.