And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

7 October

John Evelyn,

‘Dr. Tenison preached at St. Martin’s, on 2 Tim. iii. 16, showing the Scriptures to be our only rule of faith, and its perfection above all traditions. After which, near 1,000 devout persons partook of the Communion. This sermon was chiefly occasioned by a Jesuit, who in the Masshouse on the Sunday before had disparaged the Scripture and railed at our translation, which some present contradicting, they pulled him out of the pulpit, and treated him very coarsely, insomuch that it was like to create a great disturbance in the City.’

Modesty, prudence, piety


Benjamin Franklin,

‘Last night, about nine o’clock sprung up a fine gale at northeast, which run us in our course at the rate of seven miles an hour all night. We were in hopes of seeing land this morning, but cannot. The water, which we thought was changed, is now as blue as the sky; so that, unless at that time we were running over some unknown shoal, our eyes strangely deceived us. All the reckonings have been out these several days; though the captain says it is his opinion we are yet a hundred leagues from land; for my part I know not what to think of it; we have run all this day at a great rate, and now night is come on we have no soundings. Sure the American continent is not all sunk under water since we left it.’

Founding Father Franklin


John Rutty,

‘Two precious illuminations. First, of the necessity of preparation for death brought closer to my view. Second, of the necessity of maintaining an equal degree of spiritual indignation against other superfluities, as well as those that strike common sense and observation.’

A vicious feast


Thomas Turner,

‘Oh, how happy must that man be whose more than happy lot it is to whom an agreeable company for life doth fall, - one in whom he sees and enjoys all that this world can give; to whom he can open the inmost recesses of his soul, and receive mutual and pleasing comfort to sooth those anxious and tumultuous thoughts that must arise in the breast of any man in trade! On the contrary, - and I can speak from woful experience - how miserable must they be, where there is nothing else but matrimonial discord and domestic disquietude! How does these thoughts wrack my tumultuous breast, and chill the purple current in my veins! Oh, how are these delusive hopes and prospects of happiness before marriage turned into briers and thorns! But, as happiness is debarred me in this affair, I sincerely wish it to all those that shall ever tye the Gordian knot. Oh woman, ungrateful woman! - thou that wast the last and most compleatest of the creation, and designed by Almighty GOD for a comfort and companion to mankind, to smooth and make even the rough and uneven paths of life, art often, oh too, too often, the very bane and destroyer of our felicity! Thou not only takest away our happy ness, but givest us, in lieu thereof, trouble and vexation of spirit.’

Of briars, thorns and an angel


Dorothy Mackellar,

‘Dr Skirving came and said I was better (which was true), but would not let me get up, and Babs - and R.S.D. - arrived. She looked so sweet. After lunch she and Mother went out for a drive and Bertha came, and they stayed, and we had a good talk, and he went away to Queensland and I miss him so and Babs and I yarned. He has frightened her so that she will not let me exert myself at all - it’s funny . . .’

I love a sunburnt country


Jules Roy,
soldier and writer

‘Every evening, late, in the closed night, the planes hum and spin. Their position lights go away, like two shooting stars, red and green, and the lighthouse, then, moves away and gets lost. I am thinking of Vol de nuit de Saint-Éxupéry. I think of Captain André Faucilhon who said to me: “It’s very funny. We start straight on the bisector of the isosceles triangle formed on the ground by the lighthouses, and we go for it.”

Installation troubles. Boring. And the money goes, melts. I wonder if we will get there. And you should have central heating installed in this house without a fireplace. This winter, in harsh weather, we will freeze.’

From bomber to writer


Henry (Chips) Channon,

‘Diana Cooper rang early; she had been to the Fort last evening to dine with the Prince of Wales, who was, she said, ‘pretty and engaging’. Mrs Simpson was glittering, and dripped in new jewels and clothes.

I went to Claridges to have tea with the Nicholas’ of Greece who are here for the royal confinement. The Duchess of Kent was there in brown dress and much bejewelled, and rather large but not so large as Honor. Her curls were faultlessly done at the back. She was sweetness itself, but she has not become in the least bit English. We had many pregnancy jokes, and she asked tenderly for Honor, and said it would be ‘so amusing’ if her baby was born first, or on the same day as ours. This unlikely coincidence now seems possible. Hers is due on 16 October, and ours was on 24 September. I adore this family, and loved them when they were down on their luck; now their star is rising, especially since the Kent wedding (these damned, inefficient and all too numerous servants never fill my ink-stand). At one point the Grand-Duchess sent her daughter into the next room to fetch her spectacles and the Duchess went meekly. She has been well brought-up in an old-fashioned affectionate way.

I feel confident that my son will be born before morning.’

Scandal and Chips


Bertolt Brecht,

‘the fall of Czechoslovakia is remarkable for the way it happened. eg people continue to speak about that country as if it were still the same, and for that reason some of its actions are surprising. people have understood that it has to hand over something to germany, but now it is handing over more, in fact everything as far as everybody is concerned. including the jews and refugees. people forget that this defeat has brought different class forces to the helm, so the state has become a different person in law, one can no longer speak of czechoslovakia. and how did this come about? ‘england’ could not enter into a war which its russian ally would have won. the russian ally could not enter into a war which the russian generals would have won. france could not enter into a war which the popular front would have won. and none of them, naturally, could lose a war.’

The concept of decadence


James Fahey,

‘I got up early this morning for my trip to Boston, on my way to Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Chicago, Illinois.

Before leaving I shook my father’s hand and kissed him goodbye.

It was a clear cool morning as my sister Mary, brother John and I headed for the bus at the corner of Cedar Street. The bus and trolley car were crowded with people going to work. When we reached the Post Office Building in Boston I shook John’s hand and kissed Mary goodbye.

After a long tiresome day of hanging around we were finally on our way to the train station. The group was very large and they came from the New England states. We were called the Lexington Volunteers in honor of the carrier Lexington. It was sunk by the Japanese Navy May 7, 1942, in the battle of the Coral Sea.

With a big band leading the way we marched through downtown Boston before thousands of people. It took about half an hour to reach the North Station and at 5:30 P.M. we were on our way.

When the train passed through my city it was beginning to get dark and I could picture the folks at home having supper. There would be an empty place at the table for some time. It would have been very easy for me to feel sad and lonely with these thoughts in my mind but we should not give in to our feelings. If we always gave in to our feelings instead of our judgment we would fall by the wayside when the going got rough.

It will be a long tiresome trip and our bed will be the seat we sit in, two to a seat.’

An awful lot of sore ears


George Seferis,

‘These Arab cities. Half permanent, half nomadic. Houses half buildings, half encampments. The horror of civilization chipping away all round you like a chisel, and all you can feel are the splinters. This pitiable dust in your eye: coca-cola-ism, peps i-cola-ism. Cars handled like drunken camels, and the ancient monuments, ancient beyond hope, mixed up in this inhuman muddle - sometimes it seems a pathetic nightmare.

Yesterday at the house of the doctor, the honorary consul. His wife is French, he’s very well off - with a mania for travelling the world by airplane. It could have been the ante-chamber of a modern Inferno. Photographs on the wall: the Bedouin father, face like a bird of prey or Pelecanus onocrotalus, wife at his side wearing a large cross. They’re Orthodox Chrisrians - bare electric bulbs - lacework made of nylon - a colossal frigidaire in the dining-room: Hostile walls, my God! I’m tired.’

A bath in fish-glue


Alan Clark,

‘On the way over here I parked the car, got out in the moonlight, and walked along the Downs to a 5-bar gate. I spoke to God. I apologised for having avoided Him for so long. The muddle of guilt and lust over ‘x’ had blighted our contact for over a year. Now I had to make penance - first for hurting sweet Jane over ‘x’, and for still harbouring sinful, muddled thoughts there; second for having discarded the special advantages He had given me, to get me into Plymouth Sutton so late and so old, without consulting Him or taking his permission. Now the moment had come, at last, when I could do something. But how could He give me another chance? If He did, of course, our relationship would be impregnable. But could He? Everything is possible of course. But nothing works out so easily.’

They are real diaries


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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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Kip Fenn is a success: his career has taken off within a major UN agency trying to spread wealth from the rich to the poor. But all is not well with the world - the golden age of oil and chips is now over, and unsustainable development is leading to social turmoil, and to world war. Kip has found love and a new family, but he can find no way to stop his older children self-destruct; nor does he realise his partner’s deceit.

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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.

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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.