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Emily Carr is actually one of my favourite diarists. I hope you'll enjoy the excerpt that you have in this collection. I also find May Sarton's journals very good reading.

This collection sounds like quite a find! Will have to search it out myself, I have not read it.


I have not read many diaries, but Virginia Woolf's and L. M. Montgomery's are my favorites. Also Thomas Merton's diaries are very interesting.


My mother is an avid Virginia Woolf fans and her diaries and letters make for fascinating reading.


This sounds interesting. I don't read many of these types of books so I would be curious!

Buried In Print

Most of my favourites have already been mentioned, but I would like to add that I love fictional diaries as much as real ones. From my younger years reading Norma Fox Mazer's I, Trissy, I've always loved the idea of reading someone's diary as much as I love the idea of reading someone's post!


Melwyk--I didn't realize Emily Carr kept diaries until I saw the excerpt in this book. I read Susanna Vreeland's book about her (fictional)--she had such an interesting life so I am looking forward to reading this more than ever now. And May Sarton is also on my list after having read The Small Room a few years ago. I've just read the intro to this book and am ready to start into the diary excerpts now.

Tiina--I have the first couple of diaries by Virginia Woolf--I'd like to read them all at some point. I'll have to keep an eye out for LM Montgomery's diaries--I plan on reading her Anne of Green Gables book Finally this year! Thomas Merton is another writer I've missed, though I do know the name--will check him out as well, thanks.

Caitlin--VW is very famous for her diary, isn't she? I have her first couple of diaries on hand. I've only read a smattering of her fiction, but of course would love to read more!

Kailana--I did read one diary last year and enjoyed it immensely. I don't read these sorts of books very much at all, but at the moment am very much in the mood to--so this collection is perfect!

Buried in Print--I hadn't thought of fictional diaries. It's been ages since I've read Norma Mazer--I will see if my library has I Trissy. Diaries can be very compelling, can't they? I could never keep one myself, but I do admire people who keep them. I suspect I'll be reading more diaries this year!


I love to read diaries and letters -- I enjoyed a wonderful anthology of diarists several years ago, called A Book of One's Own edited by Thomas Mallon. I have been dipping in and out of Sophia Tolstoy's for quite some time now -- I will say that any discontented wife may find consolation in the fact that Sophia almost certainly had it worse. Old Leo was something of a nightmare to live with. I think it was Michael Dirda who asked if there was ever a stupider genius than Tolstoy. He thought it was a great idea to insist that Sophia read his diaries and he read hers.


As much as I love diaries I have problem with samples. I recently bought a book after someone mentioned it on my blog and when I opened it, it was precisely this, excerpts from diaries. While an abridged version may be OK, I feel these samples don't do it justice but on the other hand you may find a "Voice" you really like and then get the whole diary.


Not to tempt you or anything, but I find Alexandra Johnson is a brilliant commentator on womens' diary writing and she has a new book out 'A Short History of Diaries' which you could probably get a review copy of (Hesperus press always used to be very generous with them). Or any of her other books are worth reading, they're all very good. I'm not a big diary reader myself- the diaries of the provincial lady are my favourite! Which is not quite the same thing... But I'm sure they could be very appealing.


The only diaries I've read are Virginia Woolf's. I enjoyed them a lot, but I think the cover-to-cover approach with diaries isn't for me. They are inevitably a bit uneven I suppose. Selections must work better I think and this one is going straight on my wishlist.


I don't have a favorite diarist...other than myself. Isn't that awful to say? But, I've journaled for most of my life, have boxes and boxes in my home, and the whole idea is very compelling to me. I'll have to look up this book you've written about.

Kathy Johnson

I love reading diaries and letters, and my favorite diarist is Anne Morrow Lindbergh--I have all of her diary/letter collections. I'm going to look for this book, too, as it sounds right up my reading alley.


I can't say I have a favourite diarist but the genre I like very much. Maybe it is the way I am allowed a look into a private life. There is at least one on my reading list every year. This said I could add I very much liked Roger Deakin (Notes From Walnut Tree Farm), last year I read the two first Virginia Woolf (1897 and Warboys). I also second May Sarton and of course Etty Hillesum's is one of a very special kind. At the moment I am reading Weathering Winter by Carl H. Claus, his diary startes on the December 31 and goes day to day till March 15 with an summer postscript. Books about diaries I have never found myself so this sounds very interesting.

Claire (The Captive Reader)

I love reading diaries and I'm really intrigued by this book, particularly by the Love, Work, Power topic sections. I love L.M. Montgomery's diaries and what I've read of Virginia Woolf's but my favourite diarist is Charles Ritchie.


This sounds like a great book! I've never actually read someone's diary, and I confess, I'd feel a bit guilty doing it. Still, I would love to read Louisa May Alcott's, or Virginia Woolf's. The only journal entries I've read so far have been excerpted into biographies...


I forgot about The Diary of Anne Frank! I haven't read it yet, but I own it and very much look forward to reading it.


I hardly ever read diaries but you reminded me that I have a lovely illustrated copy of Dorothy Wordsworth's diary so I must dig it out and read it at long last. I want this to be my year for reading the unusual.

Susan E

I'm another diary lover. Most of my favorites have already been listed, so I'll just add a vote for Frances Partridge and the ever energetic Samuel Pepys. Last year, I also enjoyed Few Eggs and No Oranges which gave one of the best pictures of the WWII Blitz I've ever read... through the slow accretion of daily detail.


I have three favorite Victorian diarists, Elizabeth Grant (Ireland in the 1840s-1860s, heart-breaking), Rev. Francis Kilvert (a country clergyman in Wales & Shropshire), and George Templeton Strong (a lawyer in New York City, whose diaries cover 1835-1875). If I could have just one though it would be Strong's.


AJ--Thanks for the heads up on the Mallon book--my library has it--yay. I have only read a tiny bit about Tolstoy, but I did know he and Sophia had a rather 'tumultuous' relationship. It would be interesting to read about her, but I am not sure if I want to know too much about Leo! What spouse wants to trade diaries and when he knows he has written about his marital transgressions. Better not answer that!

Caroline--The editors of this book do note that just sharing extracts gives only a partial truth to the woman's life, but I think they were trying to give a sampling across the spectrum. I sort of like this set up as there is just enough to give a taste which may inspire me to read on, but not too much that will annoy me that there isn't more (well, at least I hope that won't be the case). I fully expect to come away from this book with a list in hand of more diaries I want to read! :)

Litlove--Alas, tempted I was. As a matter of fact I ordered the Fuller--I want it now and don't even want to wait to borrow or request a copy direct. I am such a pushover with books, but then I think you knew that. My library does have a couple of her other books, though, so I will be borrowing those--I shall have a long list of books to look for come Monday after all the great suggestions I've received here. I love fictional diaries, too, and the Provincial Lady is of course at the top of my list. I didn't realize I was so interested in them either, but at the moment they totally appeal to me.

Victoria--I've yet to read any full length diaries though I do have a few of VW's and a few of Anais Nin's. I loved Katherine Mansfield's Journal that Persephone published and you might like it as well, if you've not yet read it. It's a compilation of sorts--not very long but very interesting. I also like this sort of approach of just excerpts to give a sampling and covering themes. I do suspect, though, I am going to want to read more of the writers in the book.

Bellezza--Not at all. I think it's quite cool as a matter of fact. I tried to keep a diary when I was younger, but I was too afraid of someone reading it and couldn't bear the thought. I do like the idea of keeping a journal but I will have to content myself with reading those of others.

Kathy--I think this was a real little find and it was so unexpected. I never browse that particular area of the library! I also have a few of AML's diaries and I went and grabbed what I own off my shelves. I even have the first one so am planning to read it when I finish this book! What serendipity!

Catharina--I can see why you like the genre and I am very excited to find this book and think it will start me on my own journal reading, too. You have recommended Roger Deakin to me before, and now I must take you up on the idea--I have added two of his books to my wish list. He seems to be OOP here, but I might have to look for a used copy. I love reading about nature, too, so would a great combination. I have Etty Hillesum's Diary but had forgotten about it until you mentioned it now--will be grabbing it from my shelves, too. Wonderful ideas!

Claire--I had already added Charles Ritchie to my wishlist when you wrote about him just recently. Unfortunately my library only has one of his later diaries, so I might have to splurge on the first one. VW seems a classic diarist and I will have to see if I can track down LM Montgomery who I am planning on reading (finally) this year!

Jillian--Diaries are certainly very private. I think a number of the selections in this book are from writers and artists who, while were private people, still seem more public figures. Anais Nin was known for her diaries and I think she even published them during her lifetime, so I feel less guilty about reading them. Now an unpublished diary is another thing altogether. Anne Frank's Diary is wonderful--I read it when I was younger and really should read it again.

Cath--I like that idea of reading the unusual! I always like the idea of reading outside my comfort zone and want to do more of that myself. I've never read anything by Dorothy Wordsworth, but I really should--I've read about her only and she does sound like an interesting woman. An illustrated diary would be very cool to own.

Susan--I had to add Samuel Pepys to my list--how could I leave him off? Now I had never heard of Frances Partridge, but after reading a blurb about her diary, she seems like someone whose diaries I would love to read--and she wrote so many! I have added the first couple to my wishlist, but I think I may have to order the first--I already have itchy fingers. I really do need to read Few Eggs, too. My library has that one (though not the lovely Persephone version). Thanks for the wonderful suggestions!

Lisa--I'm obviously not well read in this genre--all new names to me. My library unfortunately does not have the first two writers, but happily they do have the Strong diary. I'll be checking it out next week. It does sound good after looking it up on Amazon. Thanks!


Danielle, such an interesting posting. Isn't it neat when you sort of stumble across, or as you put it, "serendipitously" find an off-the-beaten-track sort of eclectic gem of a book? I recall that my discovery of the poet Rupert Brooke was along these lines, the spine of a book drawing me in.
My favorite diarist is C.S. Lewis. I am somewhat of a collector of his works, including many volumes of diaries and letters, all of which I have read with profound fascination.


What a find! I would love to sink my teeth into this, Danielle. Diarists aren't something I seek to find, but, when placed in front of me I find them fascinating. Of course the one diary that always comes to mind is that of Anne Frank. There was one some years ago written by a teenage girl in Sarajevo that really moved me.


Cipriano--Sometimes the best books are the ones you come across so totally unexpectedly, aren't they? And Rupert Brooke is someone who I have wanted to read about and read his poetry, by the way! I will add CS Lewis to my list--I've not read anything by him--not even the Narnia books which seems like a gaping hole in my reading experience!

Penny--I've been really excited about this book and am very much enjoying dipping into it! I really haven't read many diaries either--though I did finish one at the end of last year that I would still like to write abou there. Anne Frank must be one of the most famous diarists--I loved it when I read it when I was younger and really should read it again. I think I know which book you are talking about--I recall it from when I was working in a bookstore, and I think I might even have it somewhere on my shelves--must check that out!


What a great find! I love reading diaries. As others have mentioned, Virginia Woolf is my favorite but Emerson writes a good diary too. I've read some other good diaries but their names escape me at the moment. You might be interested in a book called The Assassin's Cloak: An Anthology of the World's Greatest Diarists. It was published in 2000. I've read it and can vouch it is a fantastic sampling.


Stefanie--Yay for libraries. I guess I should really come out of the P call numbers occasionally and see what else I can find on all those shelves. It is a little overwhelming to think about--but in a good way. I have not heard of The Assassin's Cloak and unfortunately my library doesn't own it, but I have added it to my Amazon wishlist--may have to see if I can get it via ILL. I sort of like this set up where I can just read an excerpt to see if I want to read more by a particular diarist. So good to know you liked it--that pretty much sells it for me! :)

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