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I've been reading your mentions of this book with interest. You make me want to read more diaries. Or at least this book. There's something like a tension to reading diaries, I think, reading the "rpivate" thoughts (depends on the editing of course) of a person.. It always makes me feel like I should almost read them secretly.


I have read Fanny Burney's diaries and letters (or rather a selection from them). They are very interesting, and she knew people like Samuel Johnson and Edmund Burke as well as having spent time at the court. Her time at court is especially interesting as it was during the time when George III first started experiencing his illness.

Scriptor Senex

I think there's a big difference between diaries meant to be hidden form asll until the person is dead (notwithstanding the Oscar Wilde take on things!) and on-line diaries. I doubt many people keep as true a record of their emotions/doings on-line as they might in a personal diary that was kept under lock and key. That is certainly the case with me. My blog proves to be a diary of sorts but my real diary is very different. After all, I don't want to share all my secrets and who would want to read a depressing winge about health problems and pain? And I might have negative thoughts about someone in my diary but would never be so cruel as to do so on-line.


Iris--This is a quick overview and might be a good place to start if you are curious about diaries--definitely not comprehensive but she does give a nice taste of what's out there! I do know what you mean by reading someone's private thoughts--in many cases, though, it seems as if the writers edited to some extent and perhaps expected their writing to be read publicly.

Ed--I didn't realize she had kept such extensive diaries. I'm very curious about them and will see if I can get some sort of abridged version. She had such an interesting life, though it sounds like her time at Court really impinged on her wish to write. I bet she gives a very good sense of the period she lived, too.

Scriptor Senex--I've never been one to keep diaries--too afraid of someone reading them, plus I've never been good at writing down too many personal feelings. I expect the people who keep these online diaries are indeed writing for an audience, though from what I understand in the book, some of the people who kept paper diaries also wrote for an audience of sorts, too. This blog is as close as I will ever come to keeping a diary--a reading diary only.


I had never heard of Mary Chestnut before but that was abook I noted and thought I might like to read at a later date.
Oscar Wilde is a funny one. Makes want to grab his plays and start reading them again.


I'm glad you've done so many posts on this book as I've learned a lot from them (and my library doesn't have a copy for me to read myself). Now I have an expanded list of diaries to look for, too.

I read Q's Legacy over the summer, and enjoyed it, as I enjoy all of Helene Hanff's work, though 84 Charing Cross Road will always be my favorite. Ms. Hanff does make me feel woefully ignorant of literature, however!


I've heard of Chestnut but had no idea her diary had won a Pulitzer. Now I'm going to have to get myself a copy of that one. I do agree with Scientific American on the health benefits of diary keeping. One can get out all the whining and complaining and be postively horrid and the book never once tells you to shut up. It's quite cathartic :)


That last quote is interesting. The more plastic the brain seems, the more hopeful the situation appears.

Buried In Print

How did I not know that Burney's diaries were so extensive?! Here I thought she was all about letters... *rushes off to makes notes*


The information you shared from A Brief History of Diaries has made me even more curious about The Hidden Writer. There's two books added to my wish list now:)

Claire (The Captive Reader)

The more you've shared about this book, the more eager I've become to read it. It sounds completely fascinating.


Caroline--I have never read Oscar Wilde! I wanted to read him in high school, but my English teacher dissuaded me, and then I was always too scared to after. I really do need to try him now--I'm sure I will like him. I thought Mary Chestnut's diary sounded good, too. I'm not really all that into the Civil War, but I do like reading about it from a woman's perspective!

Kathy--Happy to oblige! There was so much good stuff to talk about, but hard to talk about it, too in a way. I wanted to share a few things anyway. I totally admire Helene Hanff's journey into English Lit, though my tastes do differ actually. She does seem like an intellectual--a spunky one with decided opinions! I'm really enjoying this book the second time around.

Shelley--I have read nothing about the mind/brain, but when I see quotes like this I am intrigued and should really look for a very basic book. It's good to know writing is a good thing--I wonder if this/blogging counts?

Buried in Print--I didn't even know she kept diaries. I have never read her work, but I want to (of course). I'll be seeing what my library has in terms of her diaries--I wonder if they are as juicy as they sound?

Catharina--I'm looking forward to reading Johnson's other book--there should be more information or more about the diarists in it. This was a good, simple overview though--very dangerous for my TBR piles!

Claire--It's a quickie and one I highly recommend. Just read it with a pencil and paper in hand. I keep buying ever more diaries even now...


The only diary I've ever read is Anne Frank's. I'd love to try another one and appreciate some of the suggestions you have noted here.


I've read before about the health benefits of writing. And I believe them,too. When I have a problem on my mind late at night, the only way I can get to sleep is to get up and write it all down. It makes a huge difference. I'm so glad you've enjoyed this book - I think she is a really clever author, in the way she knows exactly how to hook the reader and draw him or her in!


Kathleen--If you are looking for a diary to read, Alexandra Johnson certainly gives you a good selection in this little book! I've not read many myself, but I did love Anne Frank's diary.

Litlove--I thought that quote was really interesting. I should probably write more--and maybe my emails help me in that area? She is clever and I am looking forward to reading her other book on diaries.

Stefanie--Oops--I skipped over you when I responded to the other comments. I'll let you know how the Chestnut diary is--it certainly sounds interesting. And it must be good to have won a Pulitzer. And whining is actually very cathartic--it's good to get rid of all that stuff that you carry around inside.


Edmund Wilson wrote a fabulous book called Patriotic Gore. He is writing about the literature of the American Civil War spends quite a bit of time on the diarists of the Civil War. Also the chapters on Grant, Sherman and Lincoln are tremendous. One of my favorite books. Highly readable and re-readable.


AJ--I'll look for it. It sounds good. Have you read Mary Chestnut's diary? I just received a copy in the mail. I've never been all that interested in the Civil War to be honest, but my curiosity has definitely been piqued!

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