And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

26 November

1762
James Boswell,
writer

‘I was much difficulted about lodgings. A variety I am sure I saw, I dare say fifty. I was amused in this way. At last I fixed in Downing Street, Westminster. I took a lodging up two pair of stairs with the use of a handsome parlour all the forenoon, for which I agreed to pay forty guineas a year [later bargained down to £22], but I took it for a fortnight first, by way of a trial. I also made bargain that I should dine with the family whenever I pleased, at a shilling a time. [. . .] The street was a genteel street, within a few steps of the Parade; near the House of Commons, and very healthful.’

Young Boswell in London

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1885
Francis Turner Palgrave,
civil servant and poet

‘Ince telegraphed that, I was elected Professor of Poetry by a majority of sixty. The pleasure this gave at home, and the many kind letters called forth from friends, have been the really agreeable elements in this success. It will be difficult to satisfy expectations - to face the illustrious images of ancestors in the Chair. But I am glad of a chance to be a little useful before the night cometh, if I may be so allowed.’

Professor of poetry

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1918
Alex Sabine,
writer

‘Petrograd is said to have been occupied by the Allies - to everybody’s secret joy.’

Jailed for making soap

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1922
Howard Carter,
archaeologist

‘Open second doorway - about 2pm - Advised Engelbach

After clearing 9 metres of the descending passage, in about the middle of the afternoon, we came upon a second sealed doorway, which was almost the exact replica of the first. It bore similar seal impressions and had similar traces of successive reopenings and reclosings in the plastering. The seal impressions were of Tut.ankh.Amen and of the Royal Necropolis, but not in any way so clear as those on the first doorway. . .

Feverishly we cleared away the remaining last scraps of rubbish on the floor of the passage before the doorway, until we had only the clean sealed doorway before us. In which, after making preliminary notes, we made a tiny breach in the top left hand corner to see what was beyond. Darkness and the iron testing rod told us that there was empty space. Perhaps another descending staircase, in accordance to the ordinary royal Theban tomb plan? Or may be a chamber? Candles were procured - the all important tell-tale for foul gases when opening an ancient subterranean excavation - I widened the breach and by means of the candle looked in, while Ld. C., Lady E, and Callender with the Reises waited in anxious expectation.

It was sometime before one could see, the hot air escaping caused the candle to flicker, but as soon as one’s eyes became accustomed to the glimmer of light the interior of the chamber gradually loomed before one, with its strange and wonderful medley of extraordinary and beautiful objects heaped upon one another.

There was naturally short suspense for those present who could not see, when Lord Carnarvon said to me ‘Can you see anything’. I replied to him ‘Yes, it is wonderful’. I then with precaution made the hole sufficiently large for both of us to see. With the light of an electric torch as well as an additional candle we looked in. Our sensations and astonishment are difficult to describe as the better light revealed to us the marvellous collection of treasures: two strange ebony-black effigies of a King, gold sandalled, bearing staff and mace, loomed out from the cloak of darkness; gilded couches in strange forms, lion-headed, Hathor-headed, and beast infernal; exquisitely painted, inlaid, and ornamental caskets; flowers; alabaster vases, some beautifully executed of lotus and papyrus device; strange black shrines with a gilded monster snake appearing from within; quite ordinary looking white chests; finely carved chairs; a golden inlaid throne . . .

Our sensations were bewildering and full of strange emotion. We questioned one another as to the meaning of it all. Was it a tomb or merely a cache? A sealed doorway between the two sentinel statues proved there was more beyond, and with the numerous cartouches bearing the name of Tut.ankh.Amen on most of the objects before us, there was little doubt that there behind was the grave of that Pharaoh. . .’

The finding of Tutankhamun

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1900
Hamlin Garland,
writer

‘This marks an epoch in my life, [. . .] I am forty years of age and my mother has passed out of my physical life. For eleven years she has been a burden I have delighted to bear. I did much for her - I should have done more.’

Cowboys and indians

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1977
James Tiptree,
Jr., writer

‘I feel the sf writing is at, or coming to, an end. [. . .] But what do I DO inside? Try for ‘mainstream’ writing? A theory-research book? A diary? Some kind of weird autobiography? (Why, why?) I will NOT return to being a Bradley appendage. I feel I have one more go inside me, but what, what?’

Sci-fi writer’s double life

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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, 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.