Pepys, Samuel

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
Save to active project

Pepys, Samuel

Samuel Pepys (pēps), 1633–1703, English public official, and celebrated diarist, b. London, grad. Magdalene College, Cambridge, 1653. In 1656 he entered the service of a relative, Sir Edward Montagu (later earl of Sandwich), whose secretary he became in 1660. That same year he started as a clerk in the navy office and by 1668 he was an important naval official and owned a considerable estate. In 1672 he was made secretary to the admiralty. He sat in the Parliament of 1679, but he was charged with betraying naval secrets to the French in the same year. He was briefly imprisoned in the Tower but was vindicated and freed in 1680. In 1684 Pepys was reappointed secretary to the admiralty and was made president of the Royal Society. The accession of William III forced him into retirement, where he wrote his Memoirs … of the Royal Navy (1690).

Pepys left his valuable library, including his diary in cipher, to his nephew John Jackson and in turn to Magdalene College, Cambridge. His diary was discovered there in 1728 and nearly a century later was partially deciphered and first published (1825). An almost full text was edited by H. B. Wheatley (10 vol., 1893–99), but a complete edition did not appear until after World War II. One of the most famous diaries of all time, an intimate record of the daily life and reflections of an ambitious, observing, and lusty young man, it extends from Jan. 1, 1660, to May 31, 1669, when failing eyesight forced him to stop writing. Pepys's diary gives a graphic picture of the social life and conditions of the early Restoration period, including eyewitness accounts of the great plague (1665) and the great fire of London (1666).

See the diary (new ed. by R. Latham and W. Matthews, 10 vol., 1970–83) and the abridgment of the diary (ed. by O. F. Morshead, 1960); Pepys's letters (ed. by H. T. Heath, 1955); biography by C. Tomalin (2002); studies by P. Hunt (1958), C. Emden (1963), O. A. Mendelsohn (1963), M. H. Nicolson (1965), I. E. Taylor (1967), R. Barber (1972).

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Pepys, Samuel
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?