Here is the text of a fascinating email that Paul Lyons sent us. I went over to the site and for any lover of diaries it is a marvelous resource. Paul hopes we find them well-written, original and interesting. Indeed I do. I find them all of that and more. Onto my RSS reader his site goes!
It’s now nine months I’ve now been writing two or three articles a week on historical and literary diaries/diarists for the Diary Junction Blog. There’s an archive of over 120 substantial stories, all of them full of useful links, and most of them with extracts from original texts.
Here is a selection of the latest articles – take a look. I hope you find them well-written, original, and interesting.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Lincoln and Fanny Seward
To mark the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln, the University of Rochester has put online a selection of diary entries written by Fanny, the daughter of Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William H. Seward. Among these diary entries is an eye-witness description of the attempted murder of her father by a Confederate spy and associate of the man who succeeded in assassinating Lincoln that very same day. . .
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Darwin and his diaries
Charles Darwin, one of the greatest and most important scientists that ever lived, was born two centuries ago today. It is well known that his discoveries regarding evolution were first seeded while travelling round the world on HMS Beagle. During that journey, he wrote a detailed diary which has been published many times; but he also kept another diary throughout his life – unfortunately it’s very brief. Darwin’s wife, Emma, kept a diary too, also very brief (which seems to ignore her husband’s birthday!). All three diaries are freely available on the internet thanks to the wonderful Darwin Online website. . . .
Monday, February 2, 2009
We saw a light ashore
Three hundred years ago today a Scottish sailor called Alexander Selkirk was rescued from a South Pacific Island, having been marooned there for four years, by an English sailor called Woodes Rogers. Selkirk’s ordeal is said to have inspired Daniel Defoe’s now famous character and book, Robinson Crusoe. Indeed, extracts from Rogers’ journal at the time he found Selkirk are included at the back of an 1801 edition of Robinson Crusoe (and this is freely available online). . Saturday, January 31, 2009
On sheer emptiness
Happy birthday Ken Wilber, 60 today. Author of several books mostly published by Shambhala – including A Brief History of Everything and A Theory of Everything – Wilber has also published a diary he wrote throughout 1997. It starts with a brief meditation on sunlight and sheer emptiness. . .
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The League is the solution
‘Today may be epoch marking in the history of the World. The Peace Conference opened its sessions in Paris with the representatives of the civilized world assembled around the board. It is announced there that the League of Nations will be one of the first – the first – number in the order of business.’ So wrote Breckinridge Long, an American civil servant on 18 January 1919. A few days later – exactly 90 years today – the Conference formally agreed to set up the new international organisation. . .
Thursday, January 22, 2009
The Mason-Dixon Line
Jeremiah Dixon died 230 years ago today. Although he lived and died in the north of England, his name is much better remembered in the United States, where he worked as a surveyor and astronomer with another Englishman, Charles Mason. Between them, they surveyed and created what became known as the Mason-Dixon border line. It was a job that took the best part of four years, and there’s a journal to prove it. . .
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Plotkin’s Berlin; Carano’s Stalag
Two diaries of Americans in Germany before and during the Second World War have just been published by US university presses. One is by Abraham Plotkin, a Russian immigrant of Jewish origin, who returned to Europe to live for a few months in Berlin when the Nazis were just coming to prominence. And the other is by Steve Carano, a prisoner of war in the infamous Stalag 17 camp. . .
Although I call this a ‘blog’, the stories are much closer in style to online newspaper or magazine articles. The main focus is on diaries in the news. Each article has a newsy element or peg; I always refer to original sources and give links; I try to bring a different or quirky angle to every article, or make interesting or unusual connections; and I always try to quote actual diary texts.