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Diary like Pepys

Diary like Pepys

Even in a digital age diaries are surprisingly popular Christmas gifts. Perhaps you found yourself sitting pen-poised on January 1st.

On January 1st, 1660 Samuel Pepys was in the same position. That was the day he began his diary. He could have had no idea what an important document it would become. It is one of the most important documents for historians studying the English Restoration period, which coincidentally also began in 1660.

Pepys’ diaries are special because for just under a decade he recorded the minutiae of his everyday life. It helped that he was quite well-connected. His cousin, Edward Montagu, was a high-ranking naval officer who found a position for Pepys at the Navy Office in the City of London. His hard work and talent saw Pepys promoted through the ranks very quickly. His cousin’s position also meant that Pepys was present at many important events, all of which he recorded in his meticulous shorthand. 

Notepad and paper

For example, Pepys was aboard one of the ships which sailed to Holland to bring Charles II back to England. He attended King Charles II’s coronation, and he was also President of the Royal Society for a while.

Pepys recorded everything. He gave vivid accounts of the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London. It is from him that we are able to relive the theatre of the period, as well as fashion and popular food and drink. His diary has been of invaluable assistance to historians and has given much pleasure to its many readers.

We are in turbulent times right now, and about to enter an extraordinary year for our country. Who knows…the historians of the future might be reading your entries on the aftermath of Brexit!

 

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