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Diary type autobiographies

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Showing 1-15 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Jan 2010 15:01:15 GMT
Does anybody know of any good diaries by famous or real people such as Anne Frank or Samuel Pepys?

Posted on 16 Jan 2010 12:33:13 GMT
hiljean says:
There are loads! Kilvert's Diary (late 19th C West Country vicar) is one of the best known and comes in several editions; similarly "Diary of a Country Parson" by James Woodforde (late 18th C) comes in a number of versions; then there's Fanny Burney's Diary which is brilliant (late 18th C, fascinating woman!). There was a very interesting programme on BBC4 a few days ago called Dear Diary which focussed on this genre. They talked about Virginia Woolf's diaries which are supposed to be fascinating but I haven't read them. My mother is a great reader of published diaries and her favourite is "Journal of a Somerset Rector" by John Skinner, but I think this is out of print.

My personal favourite is Nella Last's War and Nella Last's Peace which were both part of the Mass Observation Project started in the 1930s. She is a housewife from Barrow-in-Furness and her diaries are full of wonderful details of life during and after WW2.

I could go on, but this should give you some ideas!

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Jan 2010 12:52:04 GMT
Jenny Woolf says:
Marks and Spencers of all people did a marvellous book based on the diaries of 5 subscribers to Mass Observation after the second world war. It is a big thick book and the author made an effort to find out what had become of the people who wrote the diaries. I think it was called "Our Hidden Lives"

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Jan 2010 13:38:23 GMT
Last edited by the author on 16 Jan 2010 13:38:54 GMT
hiljean says:
Jenny, this is probably the same as "We are at War" edited by Simon Garfield which is a compilation of contributions to the Mass Observation Project, about five people certainly. The drawback, for me, was a slight lack of continuity as it is chronological and therefore jumps from one to another which can get confusing.

Posted on 22 Jan 2010 14:15:57 GMT
Songs of Blood and Sword - a political and personal memoir on Pakistan's Bhuttos

Posted on 24 Jan 2010 22:25:51 GMT
Though compared to all those mention above it may sound a bit frivolous but Deborah Bull's dancing away is a year in her life at the royal ballet at the turn of 2000. It's not all dance with fasinating descriptions on society and a unique insight to her life away from being principle dancer and how she copes with her job whilst it is going through change.

Posted on 27 Jan 2010 18:33:35 GMT
KK says:
Agree with "Our Hidden Lives" by Simon Garfield. Didn't find the 'jumping about' too confusing.
Also, along the same lines "Nella Last's War"

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Feb 2010 11:02:50 GMT
publisher says:
If you are interested in France and Europe at the time of the French Revolution try this very interesting diary by the famous painter Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun, Memoirs of a Painter: An Extraordinary Life Before, During and After the French Revolution

Posted on 22 Feb 2010 19:45:04 GMT
Bookworm79 says:
The actor Alec Guinness ('Kind Hearts and Coronets', 'The Man in the White Suit', 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'.....and 'Star Wars' [he wouldn't be happy to see the last get a mention]) published some of his diaries under the titles 'My Name Escapes Me' and 'A Positively Final Appearance' -I really enjoyed them.

Posted on 23 Feb 2010 22:43:37 GMT
Pete Pointer says:
I have just finished one about life in East Germany. highly recommended! THE IRON CURTAIN KID

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jul 2010 17:36:24 BDT
hi daniel, try Kenneth Williams, Joe Orton, Andy Warhol. All wrote diaries that were incredibably honest, without a thought of future publication. For something more cynical try Bill Deedes and Alan Clarke. There are also at least two more diaries of the Holocaust. One is by Mary Berg but I can`t remember the title. Hope this helps.

Posted on 8 Jul 2010 10:02:16 BDT
Chris says:
I'm enjoying Chris Mullin's diaries, better, in my view, that Alistair Campbell or Piers Morgan. I also enjoyed Kenneth Williams, Francis Witts (Cotswold parson), Alan Clark and Samuel Pepys - would also recommend Tomlin's biography of Pepys and Trewin's biography of Clark. For spiritual reflection Nouwen is excellent too.

Posted on 14 Jul 2010 19:43:25 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 Jul 2010 20:11:36 BDT
Alan Bennett's Writing Home and Untold Stories good reads. Alec Guinness's two are equally brilliant.

Posted on 14 Jul 2010 20:10:59 BDT
Also try Kikuyu District, a very early account of life in Kenya by Francis Hall full of adventure, incident and humour. 1892-1901.

Posted on 15 Jul 2010 13:20:52 BDT
"Scrimgeours Scribbling Diary: The Truly Astonishing Wartime Diary and Letters of an Edwardian Gentleman, Naval Officer, Boy and Son"

It is exactly what it says in the title, the diary of an Edwardian boy who joined the Royal Navy as a lowly midshipman and later went to war. The diaries are detailed, articulate and candid and are a fascinating window on a long lost world.
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Participants:  13
Total posts:  15
Initial post:  15 Jan 2010
Latest post:  15 Jul 2010

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