For the next few weeks we will be exploring – diaries and their uses.

People use their diaries for all kinds of reasons. Here are some common uses:

  • A place to keep a dated record…
  • Places to keep account – of lovers, as well as money…
  • They are also known as a place to write down appointments, a place to store memories and as therapy or secular and silent confession or secrets…
  • Some diarists use them as a creative outlet…
  • Well-documented examples of writers using their diaries as writerly gymnasiums: include Somerset Maugham, Virginia Woolfe, and Katherine Mansfield or the American Susan Sontag…
  • Other diarists are described as using their diaries as a forum or a remarkably unfettered space in which to exercise privacy. Or to exorcise personal demons and come to terms with major life events, like death.
  • They can also be described as narrative anchors for what can sometimes feel like a chaotic life.
  • Out of its many uses, forms of diary have for millennia, been viewed as a cornerstone of self-examination. Over 1,800 years ago, Marcus Aurelius (author of Meditations circa 1 AD and go-to author for Bill Clinton, for good or bad…) was asking himself: Who am I? How should I behave? Am I good? …

Each week you will find a picture or quote from a diary in the archive (here, at Bishopsgate Institute, London) that aptly illustrates one of these uses….

2019-03-08T16:24:40+00:00By |Collections|