And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

16 October

François de Bassompierre,

‘Friday, the 16th, I was to see the Earl of Holland sick at Inhimthort. The king and queen returned to London. M. de Soubise came to see me. Afterwards the duke sent to beg of me to come to Sommerset, where we were more than two hours disputing about our business.’

Bassompierre in London


Robert Woodford,

‘I was with Mr Bullivant at the George & dranke some wormewood beare, & with Mr Rushworth I was very ill after I had supped oh Lord p[ar]don my fayling & make me very watchfull for the Lords sake Amen.’

I pray increase my estate


Roger Lowe,

‘I was sent for to Thomas Heyes’. I went. When I came thither it was but upon shop effaires. I sett forward to Banfer longe; there I stayd and dranke Botle Ale and Common Ale and was very merry. Set forward for home; when I was about Roger Naylor’s I went in, and Mary was angry with me [that] I had beene out of shop, for folkes had beene there enquireing for me, which angred her very sore, soe shee was troubled att me.’

In church, at the alehouse


Jonathan Swift,

‘I dined to-day with Mr. Secretary at Dr. Coatesworth’s, where he now lodges till his house be got ready in Golden Square. One Boyer, a French dog, has abused me in a pamphlet, and I have got him up in a messenger’s hands: the Secretary promises me to swinge him. Lord Treasurer told me last night that he had the honour to be abused with me in a pamphlet. I must make that rogue an example, for warning to others. I was to see Jack Hill this morning, who made that unfortunate expedition; and there is still more misfortune; for that ship, which was admiral of his fleet, is blown up in the Thames, by an accident and carelessness of some rogue, who was going, as they think, to steal some gunpowder: five hundred men are lost. We don’t yet know the particulars. I am got home by seven, and am going to be busy, and you are going to play and supper; you live ten times happier than I; but I should live ten times happier than you if I were with MD.’

Live ten times happier


Count de Benyovszky,
soldier and explorer

‘On the 16th, Mr. Wynbladth, fatigued by a continual rain, and perhaps urged by hunger, requested forgiveness, and surrendered himself to two companions I had appointed to watch him. Having thus made sure of these two turbulent men, I thought it proper they should be separated from the company; and they were therefore conducted to the castle by permission of the Governor: the officers of our company, being desirous of avenging themselves on the English emissaries, played them a trick, the whole effect of which fell upon a Jewish agent, who was severely flogged. Upon this wretch there were found minutes of proposals which he made to the companions, as follow:

1. That the English would pay to each associate one thousand piastres, in case they would serve the company, and put my papers in his hands.

2. That in case the associates refused to take the English party, the company would arrest them by force, in the name of the Empress of Russia, to deliver them up.

3. That the company would answer for obtaining the Empress’s pardon for them, if they would determine to make a voyage to Japan, and the Aleuthes Islands.

Such proceedings cannot attributed to men of sense. It was in my opinion a forgery, concerted between Mr. Stephanow and the Jew, to excite the associates against me.’

The king of Madagascar


Christopher Marshall,

‘Yesterday arrived, the Continental Schooner Wasp, Captain Baldwin; brought with her a large Guinea ship bound from Jamaica for Liverpool, having on board three hundred and five hogsheads of Sugar, fifty-one puncheons of rum and other goods. Letter from Harlem, where our companies [are], of the Thirteenth instant, says most of Howe’s forces are got about six miles above King’s Bridge, and were landed in order if possible to surround our camp, so that a general engagement may be hourly expected to be heard of.’

Hogsheads and puncheons


Edward Jenner,
doctor and scientist

‘Wind - West - fine morning Little storm at midday.

In the evening about 8 oClock I observed a remarkable Halo around the Moon. It’s diameter was so great that it appeard to occupy nearly on sixth part of the Heavens - It was rather faint. The position of the moon was a little Eastward of the South.

Examind at the Kennel a Horse that died yesterday as it was supposd of the Stagger. On dissection there were the same appearances as in the dog that dies of Distemper. One Lobe of the Lungs was in the highest state of inflammation - and the whole of the Membranes which line the nasal Bones were much inflamed. This I have always observd in Horses which have died of the Staggers.

The father of immunology


John Everett Millais,

‘I am advised by Coventry Patmore (a poet friend) to keep a diary. Commence one forthwith. Today, worked on my picture [‘The Huguenot’]; painted nasturtiums; saw a stoat run into a hole in the garden wall; went up to it and endeavoured to lure the little beast out by mimicking a rat’s or mouse’s squeak - not particular which. Succeeded, to my astonishment. He came half out of the hole and looked in my face, within easy reach.

Lavinia (little daughter of landlady) I allowed to sit behind me on the box border and watch me paint, on promise of keeping excessively quiet; she complained that her seat struck very cold. In the adjoining orchard, boy and family knocking down apples; youngest sister but one screaming. Mother remarked, “I wish you were in Heaven, my child; you are always crying”; and a little voice behind me chimed in, “Heaven! where God lives?” and (turning to me) “You can’t see God.” Eldest sister, Fanny, came and looked on too. Told me her mother says, about a quarter to six, “There’s Long-limbs (J. E. M.) whistling for his dinner; be quick and get it ready.” Played with children en masse in the parlour before their bedtime. Hunt just come in. . . . Sat up till past twelve and discovered first-rate story for my present picture.’

At work on Ophelia


Henry Louis Mencken,

‘I spent a couple of hours at Schellhase’s last night with Sinclair Lewis. He is in Baltimore to put on a play called “Good Neighbor,” by Jack Levin, a 26-year-old Baltimore advertising agent. I dropped in at Ford’s to pick him up, and found him back stage in the midst of a group of actors who seemed to be mainly Yiddish. He introduced me to several of them, but I didn’t catch their names.

Lewis is on the water-wagon, and during our sitting drank nothing but iced coffee. Toward the end of the evening he asked for a plate of chocolate ice cream. After we had been at Schellhase’s for an hour or more his girl showed up. She is a young Jewess rejoicing in the name of Marcella Powers, and has a part in “Good Neighbor.” She turned out to be a completely hollow creature - somewhat good-looking, but apparently quite without intelligence. Lewis told me in her presence that he had been hanging up with her for more than a year.

Before she саmе in he said that he had left Dorothy Thompson finally a year or so ago. He said that life with her had become completely impossible. She is a born fanatic and spends all of her days in howling and ranting against the wickedness of the world. Lewis told me that this oratory finally wore him down to such a point that he had to flee.

He looks almost ghastly. His face is the dead white of a scar, and he is thin and wizened. He told me that he had a new novel under way, but said that he was in some doubt that he’d ever finish it. Its principal character is a large scale do-gooder - a former college president who sits on innumerable committees and is active in every good cause. Such an idiot, in his palmy days, would have been nuts for him, but I begin to doubt, as he apparently doubts himself, that he will be able to swing the job now. Obviously, he is in a state of mental collapse, not to mention physical decay. Long-continued drink and two wives of the utmost obnoxiousness have pretty well finished him. He seemed to be immensely delighted when I told him that both Cabell and Hergesheimer had told me at different times that they regard “Babbitt” as the best novel ever written in America.’

Mencken’s disagreeable character


Charles Ritchie,

‘ [Hotel de la Paix, Geneva] To understand one’s own destiny, to have some framework in which to see this floating shifting mass of experience, to chart these currents, these shocks and depths and dangerous rocks, not to die without knowledge. Oh E, how can I live separated from you? What have I done to us? If I stopped caring, I should never care for anything. If I stopped fearing this, I should fear nothing again. . . In a dim way I like this feeling of being alone and taking up this monologue. I miss my wife. I want her. I am waiting for her. Yet this time of recuperation is quietly, sadly pleasant.’

V happy with E


Lee Harvey Oswald,

‘Arrive from Helsinki by train; am met by Intourest Repre. and in car to Hotel ‘Berlin’. Reges. as. ‘studet’ 5 day Lux. tourist Ticket.) Meet my Intorist guied Rhimma Sherikova I explain to her I wish to appli. for Rus. citizenship. She is flabbergassed, but aggrees to help. She checks with her boss, main office Intour; than helps me add. a letter to Sup. Sovit asking for citizenship, mean while boss telephons passport & visa office and notifies them about me.’

JFK’s assassin in Moscow


David Sedaris,

‘New York. Amy and I walked up 8th Avenue to Intermezzo, where Hugh and his friend Sue were having lunch. “Here you are!” Amy shouted. “Just what do you think you’re doing? You can’t afford to be eating here, not when I’ve got a five-month-old baby waiting in the car. And wine too! You’re drinking wine! I hate being your sponsor, I really do.” Everyone stared and Hugh turned bright red.

Afterward I went to Macy’s, where I filled out umpteen forms, peed into a jar, and had my eyes tested. This year, as a returning elf. I’ll make $9 an hour. Regular Christmas help gets only $6.’

Sedaris gets the call


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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.

SITE DEVISED by Paul K Lyons

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.