And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

20 October

William Laud,

‘Monday, I was forced to put on a truss for a rupture. I know not how occasioned, unless it were with swinging of a book for my exercise in private.’

My picture fallen


François de Bassompierre,

‘Tuesday, 20. Viscount Hamelton (Wenbleton) and Goring came to dine with me. After dinner I was heard at the council, and on my return the Venetian ambassador came to visit me.’

Bassompierre in London


John Reresby,

‘His Majesty went to see a new ship launched at Deptford, in his barge. I waited upon him to the water side, where he seeing me called me into the barge. He that was named to be captain gave the King a great dinner, where his Majesty commanded all the gentlemen to sit down at the same table. He was very serious that day, and seemed more concerned than the greatest business did usually make him.’

The most barbarous murder


Abraham de la Pryme,

‘This [day] examining and talking with several of my oldest parishoners of this town about what was memorable relating thereto, they tell me that this Roman way, of which I have already made mention, is commonly call’d amongst them the High Street way.

This country has been exceeding woody to what it is now, above half of the woods being cut down and sold about forty years ago. Here was formerly very great roberys committed in them, this being the most dangerous place in the whole country, so that people durst scarce travel in companys. In this wood towards Thorholm more, is a low sunken place call’d Gipwell*, which was formerly a mighty deep hole, so thick beset with trees, that it was impossible to see the sun. Here it was that the rogues kept their rendisvouz and carryd all those thither that they rob’d, oftentimes murdering them and casting them therein. Within these twenty years stood a mighty great hollow tree, in which, when it was cut close up by the roots, was found a pair of pot-hooks.

There stood a mighty great famous tree likewise by this way side, which was cut down about thirteen years ago. It was nine yards about, had twenty load of wood in it besides it’s body, and spread at least twenty-five yards each way when it was standing.

There is a good law at Worlebee, a town some few miles off, which every tennant, according to the quantity of land that he takes, is bound to plant yearly so many trees thereon; but, tho’ this law is yet in force amongst them, yet it is a great pitty that it is not so much regarded as formerly.

*There is no such place as Gipwell now. There is a deep black bog on two sides of Thornhohne, and it must, I think, have been some part of this that was formerly a pond or pool; and if they put their victims in, I have no doubt they would soon sink into the bog, and never be heard of again.’

Antiquities and highywaymen


Thomas Gyll,

‘Died at Durham, where he came for the benefit of the air, the Rev. Mr. Robinson, rector of Seaham. He married Alice, one of the daughters of Robert Hartley, formerly of Hartford, in the parish of Gilling, gent.’

Who died the last week


Joseph Farington,

‘While we were walking, the Prince with Mrs Fitzherbert were also on the Steine together, and called on Lord Thurlow. Lord & Lady Elenborough were also there. She of rather a tall size, and her aspect is mild & agreeable. Lord Elenborough is abt. 52 years of age. He was at Cambridge and took his degree when Mr Keddington did. Lord Thurlow has now all the appearance of an old man, being very gouty & infirm.’

Farington, painter and diarist


David Cargill,

‘Mrs. C. exhibited symptoms of inflammation wh. induced Dr. Bland to draw a considerable quantity of blood from her; The disagreeable symptoms were removed, & she experienced great relief. Baby is doing well.’

Like wolves and hyaenas


John Everett Millais,

‘Finished flowers after breakfast, after which went out to bottom of garden and commenced brick wall. Received letter from James Michael - complimentary, as containing a prediction that I shall be the greatest painter England ever produced. Felt languid all day. Finished work about five and went out to see Charley. Walked on afterwards to meet Hunt, and waited for him. In opening the gate entering the farm, met the two girls. Spoke further with one on the matter of sitting.’

At work on Ophelia

Francis Turner Palgrave,
civil servant and poet

‘We came to Lyme, and Cis and I went carefully over our little intended purchase, Little Park. It is a pretty little old place, with its many little rooms and pretty garden and lovely views. May it be a true haunt of peace to us and our dear ones! . . . Returned home to a warm welcome from our dear, dear lively little ones.’

Professor of poetry


Robert Lindsay Mackay,

‘Round the companies. The C.O. (MacNeil of Oban) got a mouldy haggis, which he ate all by himself. It came in a parcel labelled ‘CAKE’. He had kept it for three weeks!’

A bath in Albert


Stephen Spender,

‘It must now be three weeks since my weekend at the Woolfs. They live in a very pleasant house at Rodmell near Lewes. [. . .] I arrived in time for tea. After tea, we went out on to the lawn and played a game of bowls. [. . .] Virginia and I walked about the garden talking about writing, which she said she wanted to discuss with other writers. She was pleased that I kept a journal because she said she found it was the only thing she could do, too. She thought that every day an occasion arises in which one sees things in an entirely new and different way, that these moments of transformation are one’s grasp of reality. This is the experience she tries to catch hold of in her journal.’

The ghost of a reader


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Why Ever Did I Want to Write is a patchwork of themed stories about one man’s early life, embracing highs and lows but driven by a desire to make the most of being alive, to experience, to feel, and above all to understand. Reminiscent of Karl Knausgaard’s A Death in the Family and Theodore Zeldin’s An Intimate History of Humanity, this memoir, often based on diaries, sees Lyons reflecting on a repressed childhood, exploring the world through years of travelling, and searching for meaning and excitement in the arts and love affairs – an archetype of the counterculture in the 1970s and 1980s.

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Third time lucky - Kip Fenn finds true love. His UN career though is ending with a whimper. Another terrible war is cut short by the devastating Grey Years, and while nations rebuild many individuals turn Notek. In restless retirement, Kip’s lifelong passion for vintage photos sees him launching a new arts institution. But who is the mysterious visitor by his bedside, and how will she affect his planned deathday?


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.

in diary days



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.