Published this month and edited by two esteemed archivists, Michael Moss and David Thomas, Archival Silences contains a chapter on diaries and silence by GDP's founding director: Polly North. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781003003618-12/diaries-silence-polly-north. The chapter is a celebration of the diaries at the Great Diary Project at Bishopsgate Institute and of the rich ambiguities almost all diaries speak of.
18/03/1945 I have applied to the Red Cross to go overseas as a Welfare Officer in Military Hospitals. Flip met a woman in London about to go to India on this scheme, got details for me and after my usual deliberation and even ruling out the idea for fear of being away when David returns, I've now realised it maybe the very thing I want. I see it this way. a. Such an opportunity will never present itself again; b. I am entirely without ties; c. extremely fed up with and restless in my present job at the Town Hall [...]
31/12/1944 [After a few days with her boyfriend - and future husband - David - Lorelei writes] D's parting words more than could have hoped to hear I can hardly believe it’s true that he feels that way after meeting me again. I was so afraid I'd no chance with as he must have the choice of women. Sent him New year's greeting telegram at 1.56 am. How I wonder what 1945 holds! How long David will be away and whether that which I've lived 33 years for is really going to happen this year? If only David is kept [...]
‘[e]xperience is the only thing we share equally, and everyone senses this.’ (Amis, Martin, Experience, 6)
‘[w]e know perfectly well that life certainly isn’t a story, at least not in any simple […] sense, and we also know that a person isn’t a book’ (Eakin, How Our Lives Become Stories, 99)
Our lives with all their miracles and wonders are merely a discontinuous string of incidents – until we create the narrative that gives them meaning. (Arlene Goldbard)
Unwritten diaries...imagine... The diary of a newborn. The diary of an illiterate 16th century chamber maid. The diary of a Norman conquistador. The diary of a martyr. The diary of an 18th century pub landlord, candle stick maker, baker and so on. The diary of a 17th century New York landlord. And then there are the diaries not written by dedicated diarists: The self-reflective diary of the appointment diarist. The appointment diary of the allotment diarist. The nature diary of the fitness app. And so on. The stories are without end. And the vast array of life is breathtaking. [...]
Many of our diarists, old and new, are chronicling the times we find ourselves in. Their contributions to The Great Diary Project range from shopping lists and bog roll to health concerns and Whitehall response. Their contributions are multidimensional and active. The diaries and dated notes we have received recently are incredibly important social, and in years to come, historical documents (as, indeed, are all our diaries, whatever conditions they were written under). We have reflection from diarists on what the virus, and its fall-out, means at all levels of human experience: including the personal, the interpersonal, the social, the [...]
The desire to provide some sort of framework to our lives in the dated word will be strong this Christmas. Who of you will be keeping a diary? Or gratitude journal? Or CBT journal? Or chronicling the day on Facebook/Facetime/ or Whatsapp?