And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

5 June

William Whiteway,

‘This day at 11 a clocke at night, god took unto his mercy, my eldest daughter Mary, being fower yeares old within 6 or 7 diaes.’

The towne took on fire


Hermann Ludwig von Löwenstern,

‘We sailed with a fresh wind toward Texel to show the Dutch that, even though the sailors in England were revolting, the sea was nevertheless not empty of English ships.’

At sea with Von Löwenstern


Henry Crabb Robinson,

‘At Covent Garden. For the first time in my life I saw Mrs. Siddons without any pleasure. It was in the part of the Lady in “Comus.” She was dressed most unbecomingly, and had a low gipsy hat with feathers hanging down the side. She looked old, and I had almost said ugly. Her fine features were lost in the distance. Even her declamation did not please me. She spoke in too tragic a tone for the situation and character.’

Her genius triumphed


Sophia Louisa Jex-Blake,

‘Throat very fairly bad, and very ‘cheval’ as M. would say. Apropos it’s her birthday....

Just before prayers I was in the cupboard and someone shut the door nearly on me. I threw it open again and half upset the great slate. We had been rather uproarious all afternoon as M’s sisters had been here and said holidays did begin on 18th. When I came out of the cupboard I managed to tread on M’s toes, and Mlle packed me off to bed. I said ‘All right,’ shook hands with her, kissed S. and went off. Mlle wasn’t very angry nor I very sorry and so we were all very comfable. Seized on K. for a kiss as she came up and she seemed forbidden to speak to me. However we had a nice hug and she wasn’t very horrified.’

Pioneering women’s education


Alfred Domett,
prime minister and poet

‘Being at the Zoological Gardens, I looked in at the Lecture Room. Huxley was lecturing. A dark-complexioned man, with deepset eyes, prominent forehead and turned-up nose, thick rather coarse hair slightly streaked with grey, parted on one side, and brushed back from his forehead in the middle; lower part of the cheeks a little flabby making a sort of fold overarching the mouth; lips loose and mouth working; fidgety, rather excitable in manner, passing the back of his hand across his nose nervously, but as if from habit, not in the least from diffidence. He spoke in a low conversational tone; taking a snake from a box, handling and describing it; explaining some of the motions of its head and body by pawing with his hand in the air.’

Browning’s friend Domett


Nicholas II,

‘Today dear Anastasia turned 16 years old. I took a walk with all the children until 12 o’clock. We all went to prayer services. During the day we chopped down some big fir trees at the crossing of the three roads along the Arsenal. There was a colossal fire, the sun was reddish, and in the air was the smell of burning, probably from peat burning somewhere. We went sailing for a little while. During the evening we walked until 8 o’clock. I started the 3rd volume of Le comte de Monte Christo.’

Hope remains above all


Edward Stanley,

‘Usual meeting of the Board at 12 o’c. Nothing much to discuss except the question as to what would happen if we had to leave Paris. Difficult subject to deal with as we do not know where we should go to and we cannot ask for fear of giving rise to rumours. We put the whole thing in the hands of General Thornton who has promised to make all arrangements to get people away. I am endeavouring to get the members of the Missions who have their wives out here to send them home but it is a little difficult to do without giving rise to a suspicion.

After luncheon Furse came in. Afternoon. Nothing of importance and in the evening we three with Lady Rodney dined at the Ambassadeur.’

An ambassador’s war diary


Noel Coward,
writer and performer

‘London has changed, even in eighteen months; the traffic is appalling and all elegance has fled from the West End. Coventry Street, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Shaftesbury Avenue have acquired a curious ‘welfare state’ squalor which reminds me of Moscow.’

A glittering occasion


Fred Bason,

‘Yesterday at Brighton I gave my one hundredth talk to a Rotary Club. (The first talk to Rotarians I gave was in 1941 in Camberwell. My 99th was at Chertsey a week ago.) I was keen to keep this engagement although I felt very ill and Liz had to go with me in case I got some blackouts and fell down. For five years Id tried to get a Brighton talk, but each time something prevented me. I was not going to let myself down again, so I went to Brighton. You see, diary, when I started talking at Rotary clubs a speaker with much experience of these places told me that the three toughest, hardest audiences to hold in the Rotary World were at Wakefield, Leeds and Brighton, although I forgot to ask him why. As the years have passed I managed to hold Leeds and Wakefield and I intended to see how Brighton* would accept my exclusive brand of Cockney humour.

I need not have worried. They were quite alright and gave me a fair hearing and in 25 minutes talk I was able to get nine laughs out of them, so they were not so tough. Alas, I was only able to sell two of my books there although there were more than ninety men there and I did offer them for sale at far below cost price! Maybe most of them are still unable to read? I just wouldnt know. However, I sold a copy to The President of the club and to the Speakers secretary and they both promised to lend them around, so it was not quite a waste of time and genuine effort.

I recalled to Brighton Rotary how I got my first Rotarian talk. It was in 1941 and I’d made a name on the radio. There came one day to my home a big fat tough man. Would I talk at his Rotary Club? I didnt know what Rotary was, the word meant nothing to me. He explained and then I said that I would be willing to talk for ten minutes free. He said that would not do; it would have to be 25 minutes. And still he offered me no fee. He said he was not in the position to pay a fee so I wasnt very willing. It was war time and life was short.

Then he said that he noticed that I had two very bad teeth. He would take those two teeth out free and PAIN-less if I would talk 25 minutes. He was a dentist and would take me back to his surgery in his car immediately after the talk and in a jiffy they’d be out. He looked so strong and capable that I agreed.

Well, I gave the talk and then I went back to his place near Camberwell Green and that man gave me Bloody Hell. Never, never have I been hurt so much. He quite unnerved me for four days, and my gums were badly torn and still bleeding four days later, and took weeks to heal. When I got home I was white and shaking and bloody. I looked as if Id been in a massacre. Lizzie looked at me and then said ‘My God, Freddy, what did them there Rotarians do to you? They must be proper so and so’s to treat you like that, and you going there FREE just to make them laugh.
* Brighton is becoming so respectable that the pigeons now fly upside down.’

The Loud Bassoon


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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.