English Diaries: A Review of English Diaries from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century with an Introduction on Diary Writing

English Diaries: A Review of English Diaries from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century with an Introduction on Diary Writing

English Diaries: A Review of English Diaries from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century with an Introduction on Diary Writing

English Diaries: A Review of English Diaries from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century with an Introduction on Diary Writing

Excerpt

I was attracted to the study of Diary writing, not by the well-known diaries which are a part of English history or literature, but by the fragments of journals of quite obscure people which are tucked away in the collections of archæological and other learned Societies or unprinted. They seemed to me so human in their interest that they were worthy of being better known. In fact, when embarking on my collection I was inclined at first to leave out the celebrated diarists. The dividing line, however, would have been too difficult to draw, and a book which was to be a study of diary-writing would have been incomplete if the best examples were omitted.

Once I began to collect I found the field opened out pretty widely. There were published diaries some of which had been forgotten, there were privately printed diaries, there were manuscript diaries in libraries or in private houses, and there were diaries absorbed by or scattered in biographies. I had to put a limit to the range of my net. Tempted as I was by the great foreign diarists, I soon saw there was obviously material enough at home. Even within the United Kingdom, if part of my object was to unearth what was little known, I found I should have to confine myself to England alone. This deprived me of some specially good diaries, such as Sir Walter Scott's, Carlyle's, Sir John Moore's, Swift's and John Mitchel's. But to reach the more obscure diarists in Scotland and Ireland special research on the spot would be necessary. In England alone I found indeed as much, if not more, than I could manage. The only other limitation I imposed on myself, and that very willingly, was that my diarists should not be living.

I have not set out to select the best diaries or even only good diaries. My object has been to give a full representation of all shades of diary-writing, long and short, historical, public and private, good, bad and indifferent.

In the reviews which follow the Introduction each diary is dealt with separately. After much consideration I found this a better way than grouping them. The diaries are treated more . . .

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