And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

17 October

François de Bassompierre,

‘Saturday, the 17th, I went to make my bow to the queen at Withal, and to give her an account of my conference of the day before with the duke.’

Bassompierre in London


Axel von Fersen,
soldier and diplomat

‘I find here all sorts of extraordinary customs which divert me much. For instance, the town clock is always one hour in advance of the clocks of other countries. This difference, they tell me, goes back to a remote period when the inhabitants resolved to kill their chief magistrate, who, warned of the plot, foiled the conspirators by putting on the hands of the clock. It is not permissible to dance in Basle unless the master of the house plays the violin himself; and you can drive in a carriage only up to ten o’clock at night, without servants behind, and in a plain carriage of one colour only and no gilding. It is forbidden to have silk fringes in the carriage or on the harness when you drive to church, and the ladies must wear black, not gowns but dishabilles. Diamonds, pearls, laces, and pretty things of all kinds are forbidden. It is good taste not to go out before five o’clock; at that hour visits are made to family circles.

One of my acquaintances offered to take me to the Assemblee du Printemps; he presented me first to his sister and she introduced me to this assembly, which is entirely composed of young girls. What surprised me extremely was to see these young ladies arriving alone, or with a gentleman, and no maid or man-servant. They played cards and talked with foreigners or with the young men of the town who had the honour to be admitted. They go to walk in the promenades all alone.’

For the love of Marie


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,

‘Face swollen with tooth-ache; look like King Henry VIII. A working day in college. Have I been wise to give up three whole days [in the week] to college classes? I think I have; for thus I make my presence felt here, and have no idle time to mope and grieve.’

Gabrielle, Celestine or Evangeline?


Ralph Waldo Emerson,
writer and philosopher

‘A newspaper in a grave and candid tone censures the Dial as having disappointed the good expectation of our lovers of literature. I read the paragraph with much pleasure; for the moment we come to sense and candor I know the success of the Dial is sure. The Dial is poor and low and all unequal to its promise: but that is not for you to say, O Daily Advertiser! but for me. It is now better after your manner than anything else you have; and you do not yet see that it is, and will soon see and extol it. I see with regret that it is still after your manner, and not after mine, and that it is something which you can praise.’

The drollest mushroom


Anton Chekhov,

‘Performance of my Seagull at the Alexandrinsky Theatre. It was not a success.’

I fled from the theatre


Bronisław Malinowski,

‘Saturday, 10.17. In the morning S. took me on a tour of the island - to the flagpole, to the village, then to the gardens, then across the hills to the other side where we were given coconuts, and I watched the making of toea (armshells). Then we rounded the promontory and went along the mission shore. After dinner I read a little - I had done no work as yet, waiting for the help S. promised me.’

Dreaming of New Guinea


Robert Lindsay Mackay,

‘16th, 17th, and so on till the end - MUD, MUD, MUD!’

A bath in Albert


Lee Harvey Oswald,

‘Rimma meets me for Intourist sighseeing says we must contin. with this although I am too nevous she is ‘sure’ I’ll have an anserwer. soon. Asks me about myself and my reasons for doing this I explain I am a communist, ect. She is politly sym. but uneasy now. She tries to be a friend to me. she feels sorry for me I am someth. new.’

JFK’s assassin in Moscow


Arthur C. Clarke,

‘Stanley has invented the wild idea of slightly fag robots who create a Victorian environment to put our heroes at their ease.’

Dreamed I was a robot


Roy Strong,

‘The diary is very thin this year. I should have written much much more. Too much is happening. This is the first year when I have felt restless, a feeling that the V&A period is drawing to its close, but what next? That is the problem. It is not fleeing from problems, it is moving away from the same ones. Even my secretary admitted that nothing new came in any more. It was a recycling of the same old projects and problems. In other words, boredom. That is why the Times articles have been such a joy to do.’

Happy Birthday Roy


Harold Frederick Shipman,

‘No money. [Wife] not able to get DHSS to see the poverty she is in. Only the kids who have been absolutely brilliant - the pension appeal.’

I’m looking at dying


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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.