And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

13 November

1791
William Godwin,
philosopher and writer

‘Correct. Dyson & Dibbin call; // talk of virtue & disinterest. Dine at Johnson’s, with Paine, Shovet & Wolstencraft; talk of monarchy, Tooke, Johnson, Voltaire, pursuits & religion. Sup at Helcroft’s:’

William Godwin’s diary

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1862
Charlotte Grimké,
teacher and anti-slavery campaigner

‘Talked to the children a little while to-day about the noble Toussaint [a leader of the Haitian revolution who died in 1803]. They listened very attentively. It is well that they should know what one of their own color could do for his race. I long to inspire them with courage and ambition (of a noble sort), and high purpose.’

A free black female

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1910
Lady Minto,
philanthropist

‘My birthday brings a nasty jar with it, reminding me of advancing years, but the mail dispelled depression, as I received such delightful letters of good wishes from all the family. It gave me the pleasure to know what I was being thought of by loved ones far away. We received a cable last night from Mr. Gamier with the good news of Larry’s complete recovery. It was most thoughtful of him sending it, as I should otherwise have fussed on receiving the details of his accident, which was a very severe one. He was cantering across a stubble field with a friend when his horse must have put his foot into a rabbit hole and fallen with such force that the horse broke its neck and Larry was thrown violently to the ground. He was picked up in an unconscious condition and taken to a neighbouring farm-house, where the owners have been most kind and hospitable in allowing him to remain there. Mr. Gamier sent for the most eminent surgeon in the eastern counties, and I am thankful to say that no ill-effects are anticipated. I am so touched by the kind thought that has been evinced on all sides and so grateful to Lord Albermarle and Mr. Gamier for the care they have taken of Larry. I hope we shall find him entirely restored to health on our return.

Played a round of golf with Colonel Victor in tho early morning before the heat of the day. We are agreeably surprised to find the weather exceptionally cool for November. There has been an unprecedented amount of rain here during the autumn, consequently the Park is greener than I have ever seen it, and trees and shrubs look luxuriantly fresh and healthy. Roily and I went for a short ride in the afternoon before the 6 o’clock service, which we all attended. After dinner we sat out quite late enjoying the perfect temperature and the gorgeous moon which lighted up the whole river, and made the scene about as perfect a one as could be imagined.’

Lady Minto’s Indian diary

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1915
Robert Charles Benchley,
writer and actor

’12:27 - GAME CALLED. Nurse (a new one) comes in and asks my name. “Benchley.” Well, Miss Erbstadt just telephoned down & said the baby has just arrived and they are both all right. She said she didn’t know whether it was a boy “or what it was.” I hope not a “what it was.” “Both all right” is more to the point.

12:32 - Another nurse says she thinks she said a boy, but not sure. It ought to be fairly easy to ascertain before long.

12:35 - A Boy! and love from the Wife! Yea! Nurse tried to tell me “twins,” but I was a sly dog and didn’t bite.’

I hope not a ‘what it was’

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1916
Mary Thorp,
governess

‘I took a kilo of smuggled butter (12 fs) to Lena [Ford] this afternoon, they hadn’t been able to get any for a long time. I lunched next to the Secretary of the Swedish legatiorn, back from Stockholm, through Berlin, ten days ago. On leaving the station at Berlin, he saw women mending the roads, & pulling down sewer pipes. He was 2 days in Berlin, & could not obtain at his (good) hotel, meat, eggs, milk, butter or sugar. He had to live on fish, rice & potatoes. He says everyone in Sweden believes in our victory.’

In want of a winter coat

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1961
Robertson Davies,
writer

‘Worked on Saturday Night piece “Pleasures of Love.” In the evening looked over old MSS of novels and plays and reread diary of Love and Libel a year since: still painful, and it might have succeeded; useless to repine.’

Robertson Davies as diarist

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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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