Home Introduction Guide How to Search Bibliographies Anthologies Periodicals Potential Sources Misleading Titles Diaries 117-1700 Diaries 1701-1770 Diaries 1771-1800 Diaries 1801-1830 Diaries 1831-1860 Diaries 1861-1890 Diaries 1891-1920 Diaries 1921-1950 Diaries 1951-present Donate


It is now eighteen years since I expressed the hope that this fourth edition would appear at some time in 2006 and it with some desperation that it is now made available only in electronic form, which, however has the great advantage of being easily searchable without any requirement for indexing. In its initial appearance here it will be immediately apparent that proof-reading has been slapdash and incomplete: there are very many errors and formatting is erratic; the intention is that corrections will eventually be made but the compiler is now in his eightieth year and progress is likely to be slow. It is for this reason that the work is made freely available without charge, there are however many expenses but it would be appreciated if any who nevertheless find it useful

The introductions to the previous editions which also appear here explain the purpose of the bibliography and the resources, often generously supplied by publishers and copyright holders, which have been employed. This edition, which is has approximately twice the number of its predecessor owes an enormous debt to the library catalogue of James Cummings the famous American collector and bookdealer which he has allowed me to use. However the research needed to investigate the fifteen thousand diaries in his collection has, together with unconnected distractions, consumed the years and to some extent changed the nature of the work.

James Cummings collection is wide ranging and contains diaries published all over the English speaking world and it has been impossible, despite the remarkable resources of the internet, directly to access a great many of the texts. There are therefore many brief or absent annotations and where present they often rely upon a bookseller’s quotation of introductions or publisher’s blurbs or published reviews. The many diaries printed in serial publications also present problems although many are helpfully accessible on the internet. A further difficulty has been that many diary excerpts are buried deeply in biographies and histories and it is often unclear what is their extent or whether they are truly diary material rather than the fruits of recollection.


It is now five years since the appearance of the first edition of this work in its original conception as a loose-leafed publication which would be subject to annual amendment. Unfortunately it soon became apparent that this plan was hopelessly optimistic and that the number of amendments would quickly reduce the bibliography to chaos: the plan has therefore been abandoned. A second edition was issued in 1997 but only on cd-rom and has never been printed. Practicalities notwithstanding, the ambition of the book remains unchanged, if probably unrealisable: to list every diary that has ever been printed in the English language. The degree to which achievement falls short of ambition is discussed in more detail later in this introduction but there are now listed approximately ten thousand diarists, of whom three quarters are either fully annotated or have at least the titles of their diaries appended, most of them with date and place of publication, and it is possible to speculate that there are no more than two or three thousand published diarists yet to be found. The number of publications is, of course much larger than the number of diarists and increases by some hundreds every year.

I do not intend to discuss the motives of diary writers, an unprofitable subject on which, as can be seen from the section dealing with anthologies collections and studies, many better qualified than I have aired their opinions; nor will I say anything about the pleasures of reading them. This is a utilitarian publication which seeks only to be useful in a very narrow field, but a field which contains not only books of enormous value to specialists in many disciplines, but which can also be sources of pleasure and instruction for anyone. It is, moreover, characteristic of diaries that their content and value is often far from obvious and therefore easily overlooked; neither are library catalogues always as helpfully revealing as they could be.

In deciding what qualifies as a diary, I have taken the easy route of accepting the claims of authors and editors and have included almost anything that has been called or claimed to be a diary or based upon a diary, although I have occasionally noted that the claim appears to be unjustified; only very few, mainly fictional titles are included in the short list of misleading titles. The distinction between diaries and journals has not been made; it is usual nowadays to regard the terms as interchangeable and although it is not difficult to make a case for differentiating them it is not likely to be helpful to discuss it here: I hope that readers who need to do so will be able to discern from the annotations the broad character of the record under discussion. The grounds for this catholicity are straightforward: it seems to me that the researcher should be allowed to decide for himself the limits of what he is prepared to accept, rather than deny him the opportunity of discovering a source which would have been of value. This is not to imply that the bibliography is purely a tool for professional research, indeed it is hoped, and purchasers of the first edition would seem to bear this out, that there is much to be gained by the general reader.

The bedrock upon which this bibliography is founded is the body of work compiled by William Matthews1 and I here record my grateful thanks to the University of California Press for their permission to quote his annotations in those many instances where the diaries themselves have not yet been re-examined. With the probable exception of some diaries remaining undetected in his books on autobiographies almost the whole of Matthews’ bibliographical work on diaries is present here either revised or repeated. Chief among other sources has been the very helpful catalogue of James Cummings' unique private library of diaries which he has generously allowed me to draw upon; the library itself provided some of the basis for Laura Arksey, Nancy Pries and Marcia Reed's magisterial two volumes on American diaries which is the essential work in its field2, and supersedes Matthews' book. Patricia Pate Havlice's bibliography3 was enormously helpful in compiling the first edition and this has been built on here to the extent that only a few hundred of her diarists are now attributed with nothing more than a name. A debt of gratitude is owed also to the hundreds of librarians, editors and booksellers whose indexes, catalogues and footnotes have contributed so much to the search both for specific information and clues to otherwise unknown diaries. By means more fully explained in the guide which follows this introduction, the bibliography is cross referenced throughout to the works of Matthews, Havlice and Arksey, to the extent that it effectively forms a dated index to them; this is now of only passing interest for the Matthews volumes but will be of use in directing the enquirer to the other two publications.

The alphabetical index of diarists, which omits anonymous diarists and refers only to mentions in the main bibliography, contains, where known, the dates of birth and death, and occasionally the occupation or location of the diarist. There has, however, been no attempt at any sort of subject or descriptive index: to have done so would have introduced great complexity at the risk of giving a false impression of completeness. Enquirers who need to make detailed searches of content are recommended to gain access to the cd-rom edition which is, as explained in more detail below, better suited to the purpose.

The layout and reference conventions are set out in more comprehensive fashion in the guide but it is appropriate to mention here the cd-rom edition of this book which is to be issued shortly after the publication of the printed version. Users of the earlier cd version have indicated, as is to be expected, that browsing the bibliography on a computer screen is an unrewarding occupation in comparison with reading the hard copy, but this is offset by the extraordinary power of the search facilities, which provide very fast retrieval not only of entries by name or date but by judicious selection of key words can be made to select, for example diaries mentioning farming or medicine, or those who have visited Rome or the Great Exhibition, or even occasions where the words 'Rome' and 'medicine' appear in proximity. The power of this search facility has been vitiated to some extent by the lack of detail in some annotations but it may be noticeable that others have become little more than lists of key words: although the intention is to make the entries readable for humans, as well as informative for machinery, there are limitations imposed by the process of composition of the diary descriptions. The most obvious of these is the pressure of time: often there will be less than half an hour available in which to distil the essence of a book and it is inevitable that the necessary skimming and sampling will lead to the missing of some key events and perhaps wrong emphasis of themes. It has nevertheless been found that often a later full reading has led to little change in the original note. I have usually tried to maintain objectivity, but where my own partialities and prejudice are apparent, I hope to be forgiven: it should soon become obvious to the reader where my bias is displayed. It should also be emphasised that length of summary is not to be taken as a guide to the quality or interest of a diary, for instance it seemed supererogatory to say anything at all about Samuel Pepys, whereas the diaries of Ennin, John Dee and Victor Klemperer are treated at some length because apart from their specialist appeals they have that elusive quality which transmutes the best diaries into literature. There is additionally a deliberate policy of giving more detailed attention to diarists at risk of being overlooked, at the expense of those better known and more accessible. It must be acknowledged, however, that there is much unevenness of treatment which, with other more minor inconsistencies, is the subject of continuing examination and gradual rectification.

It is now possible to claim that, with the notable exception of American Diaries, particularly from 1862 to 1980, for which Arksey, Pries and Reed must be the main source of reference, and despite the less than full representation of diaries from the English speaking Commonwealth, and less excusably those published by national and local record societies after 1945, the bibliography is reasonably comprehensive for titles published up to the early 1980's; material after that date requires more systematic research than has hitherto been possible. While it is not impossible that the original aim of an updateable publication may eventually be achieved, the present objective of research is to, at the very least, provide title, date and place of publication for those diarists who are now no more than a name; and to track down and include more recent publications.

It remains only to say that it is hoped that the fourth edition will appear some time in 2006, and once again to thank Diana, my wife, for her help and encouragement.

Christopher Handley

Whitley Bay, 2002


1. American Diaries: An Annotated Bibliography of American Diaries Written Prior to the Year 1861  Berkeley, University of California Press, 1945; British Diaries: An Annotated Bibliography of British Diaries Written between 1442 and 1942  Berkeley, University of California Press, 1950; Canadian Diaries and Autobiographies  Berkeley, University of California Press, 1950; British Autobiographies: An Annotated Bibliography of British Autobiographies Published or Written before 1951  Berkeley, University of California Press, 1950. All these works are more fully described in the Bibliography of Bibliographies section.

2. American Diaries: An Annotated Bibliography of Published American Diaries and Journals  Volume 1: Diaries Written from 1492 to 1844  Detroit, Gale Research Company, 1983  and  Volume 2: Diaries Written from 1845 to 1980  Detroit, Gale Research Company, 1987. This work is also more fully described in the Bibliography of Bibliographies section.

3 And So to Bed: A Bibliography of Diaries Published in English  Metuchen, New Jersey, The Scarecrow Press, 1987 This work is also more fully described in the Bibliography of Bibliographies section.


(First issue on CDROM)

The first edition of this bibliography was likened by one reviewer, rather unkindly, to "one of those computer manuals which, barely read, gather dust": a prospect which he viewed with undisguised satisfaction, tempered only by the "threat of ongoing revisions". There has, however, been a sufficient weight of the contrary view, to encourage the appearance of this second edition, which is first issued in electronic form, although it will appear in print in due course.

The introduction to the first edition indicated the extent of its ambition and the degree to which it then fell short. Some progress has been made since then and my debt to the University of California Press has been further increased by their permission to quote annotations from William Matthews' American Diaries in the very many instances in which it has not yet been possible to examine the diaries concerned. The re-examination of titles noticed by Matthews and Havlice continues, although more slowly than had been hoped, as does the inclusion of diaries published too late for inclusion by them, or which escaped their attention; a few diarists have come to light from an examination of The Published Diaries and Letters of American Women: an annotated bibliography by Joyce D.Goodfriend1; and in all there are just over three thousand amendments and new entries in this edition. There remains much to be done, particularly in respect of material published since 1986 and for the huge number of American diaries from the beginning of the Civil War to the present day: however enquirers for American material are well served by the magisterial American Diaries: An Annotated Bibliography of Published American Diaries and Journals by Laura Arksey, Nancy Pries and Marcia Reed2; and it is perhaps fair to claim that, despite its manifold deficiences, and thanks to its predecessors, this bibliography now has the widest available coverage of its chosen field.

In the introduction to the first edition there was a discussion of my reasons for making no attempt at a subject index, and the fear was expressed that if the book ever became available in computer readable form "a keyword search… will do more to reveal the deficiencies of the annotations than to assist the researcher." Technology has allowed this prophecy to be put to the test much sooner than I had expected and although it is true that searchers should beware of concluding that what they seek does not exist because it is not reported by the computer (the fault of course is entirely human, and applies almost equally to searches by reading) it is efficient at finding mentions of places, professions and major interests, and there are interesting possibilities raised by the ability to find works by publisher, or editor, or hidden in serial publications. There are in the User's Guide and on the CD, some hints to assist users in constructing their searches and there are, I think, grounds for hoping that both researchers and casual enquirers will find that the screen, although a much less comfortable medium than paper will prove not only labour-saving but also a source of those serendipitous finds which brighten the day.

The first edition incorporated an elaborate symbolic scheme, which was intended to facilitate the identification of additions and changes to entries in subsequent editions. In the electronic format this history record is unlikely to be useful, particularly as the index, in which much of the information was disclosed, is made redundant by the computer search capability. Some modification of the scheme will probably be retained in the printed version of this edition of the bibliography but here are kept only the cross-references to entries in the other major bibliographies.

Christopher Handley

Aldeburgh, 1999


1. Boston, Massachusetts, G.K.Hall & Co.1987.

2. Detroit, Michigan, Gale Research Company, two volumes, 1983 and 1987.


A diary is a slippery thing: writers, editors and publishers all agree with Humpty Dumpty that the word means whatever they choose it to mean; and who is the poor bibliographer to argue? My most important predecessors in the field have both, for we are not a numerous tribe, been generous in their definition and I have followed their example with enthusiasm: I have accepted as a diary anything that claims to be a diary or a journal, provided only that it appears to contain material written close to the time of an event, even if that event is only in the diarist's mind, and that it appears to be part of a sequential record, no matter how intermitted. I hope that this catholicity will not be judged to conflict with the purpose of the work, which is to be useful: a purpose not quite so modest as it might, at first appear.

Useful, I hope the book will be, but for that to be so it must serve a wide and disparate population of enquirers with many different needs: for scholarship or recreation: the researcher in political, social and military history, religion, literature, medicine, science and manufacturing; those with an interest in travel, voyages and exploration; the seeker of first hand accounts of time and place, family or profession; or others who require nothing more or less than the experience of other lives, however partial, tragical or comic. It is all here from the sad record of an unhappy wife in tenth century Japan, through the courts and embassies of the world, to politicians, shopkeepers, soldiers, brewers, farmers doctors and clergymen and their wives writing with many motives which may be reduced to one: that by capturing a kind of reality on paper one becomes somehow more than mortal. This last, perhaps explains why diarists, to judge from those who have been published, are so much more prone to suicide, in proportion to their numbers, than the population at large. Although the scope of the book is wide, aiming as it does to list every diary from whatever source, that has ever been printed in the English language, it has to be said that it falls, at present, far short of achieving that ambition. There are good grounds for ignoring the many thousands of references on the world wide web to diaries, some of which are interesting and valuable, because although they are published with the intent that individuals may print copies for their own use without charge: there would seem to be copyright implications if printed copies were to change hands or be duplicated; these diaries have therefore been deemed not to have been printed in English but the reader should be aware that such things exist. More serious will be the absence of many diaries printed in Great Britain, and particularly in America and the English speaking Commonwealth. The omissions will be gradually repaired in future editions but the task is a large one: Whitaker's Books in Print lists more than two thousand books which are or may be diaries, of which very many have not been examined. To judge from the large number of printed diaries with uninformative titles that have been discovered serendipitously or from the introductions, bibliographies or footnotes of other books there are many others sleeping on the shelves.

It is this diversity in both reader and writer which presents the bibliographer with the most intractable of his problems. The arrangement of this work follows the pattern set by William Matthews whose American Diaries, British Diaries, Canadian Diaries & Autobiographies and British Autobiographies1 and continued by Patricia Pate Havlice in And So to Bed: A Bibliography of Diaries Published in English2, by arranging the material chronologically by the year in which the diary begins; within years diarists are ordered alphabetically by surname. Both Havlice in her book and Matthews in his two works on autobiographies provide subject indexes, none of which is entirely successful partly because the wide variety of material within diaries makes the selection of topics to be indexed invidious and prone to mislead by omission; it must be acknowledged, however, that Havlice's inclusion of book titles is very useful. After anxious consideration I have decided not to attempt a task that may one day be more satisfactorily approached by a keyword search of the annotations if the book ever becomes available in computer readable form; even then I fear that it will do more to reveal the deficiencies of the annotations than to assist the researcher. For the time being I hope that readers will be to some extent compensated for the time and trouble of their search by finding material which a more sophisticated approach on my part could, by pretending to do the impossible, have inadvertently concealed from them.

The annotations will be found to vary greatly in length and quality: they are usually based on a fairly brief reading of the diary, sometimes only ten minutes or so and rarely more than half an hour. The intention has been to give a survey in note form of the contents, including any reference to major historical events, and some indication of the style and appeal of the writing, and its continuity. It will sometimes be obvious that the diary has been read through, and in such cases the annotation will often be longer and the appraisal more personal; it is in these entries that editors will most often be praised or blamed. Editors have much to answer for: diaries are often unreadable in uncut form but the editing too often recasts the diarist as his editor's creation. The worst editors tend to be the author, his siblings or, particularly bad, his lawyer; sons and daughters, on the other hand, are often very good. It would have been desirable to say much more about the editors and editing of individual diaries but time has forbidden the attempt.

Although an important purpose of this bibliography is to list material not contained in the works of Havlice or Matthews, either because it appeared too late for inclusion or because the work was not known to them, it is recognised that unless previous listings are repeated, with appropriate references, the confusion and frustration engendered in the researcher in grappling with all the relevant books and their varying indexes will vitiate their usefulness. It is therefore with gratitude that I am able to record the generous permission of The Scarecrow Press to list the names of diarists included in And so to Bed and to the University of California Press for the same permission for American Diaries, furthermore the University of California Press has allowed me to quote Matthews' annotations from British Diaries, Canadian Diaries & Autobiographies and British Autobiographies in those (very many) instances where it has not yet been possible to examine the books themselves (quotations of Matthews' annotations are acknowledged wherever they appear); I have therefore been able to construct the book so as to form a chronological index to the work of my predecessors and to approach much nearer to the ultimate goal of completion than would otherwise have been the case. There are, however some limitations to the extent of this process. Firstly it has so far been possible to examine only a relatively small proportion of the American material listed by Matthews, although there is some overlap with the Canadian material, where his annotations have been quoted; secondly Matthews also lists manuscript diaries among the British and Canadian material but I have omitted all reference to his listings of manuscripts unless the diary has been printed subsequently; thirdly there remains much doubt as to whether all the diaries mentioned in Matthews' books on Autobiographies have been identified; and lastly there is a high proportion of the diaries listed by Havlice which has yet to be examined, the entries for which serve only as an index to her work, again the bulk of the missing annotations are in respect of American material, particularly of the nearly six hundred diaries of the Civil War period. There is a more detailed account of the scope of Matthews' and Havlice's bibliographies in the section which follows this introduction.

This work differs from others in its field in its loose leaf format which is intended to allow for the incorporation of new and corrected material which will be issued at intervals, probably of eighteen months or annually; the rather eccentric pagination is the result of an attempt to minimise the amount of reprinting which will become necessary on each occasion. It very soon became apparent that the quantity of information could not be encompassed within a single volume and the opportunity was therefore taken to use volume one for the ancillary material and the index and to confine the bibliography proper to volume two (which rapidly expanded to encompass another two volumes) and this should contribute to ease of use, although the book is sadly not a thing of beauty. There appear at the foot of each page and at the end of each entry in the index, two digits which indicate the state of revision of the page or entry: this is, of course, of no significance in this first edition but it is anticipated that it will become necessary in future editions in order to highlight additions or amendments that have taken place.

The first line of each entry contains the full name of the diarist and his or her year of birth and death; sometimes the diarist's occupation is also mentioned; then follow references to entries in the principal bibliographies, in the form of a series of letters and numbers which are to be interpreted thus:

H - Havlice and the number is the item number in that book.

A - Matthews American Diaries and the page on which it is to be found.

B - Matthews British Diaries and the page on which it is to be found.

C - Matthews Canadian Diaries and Autobiographies and the item number in that book.

D - Matthews British Autobiographies and the page on which it is to be found.

An asterisk preceding the reference indicates that significant information is present in the bibliography referred to which is not repeated in this one: normally this will be the description of a book not mentioned here, which is referred to in Havlice, or in Matthews' American volume3, which it has not yet been possible to examine. The absence of an asterisk means that no other books are referred to elsewhere, it will however, often be instructive to refer to the annotations of Havlice and Matthews, which sometimes differ substantially from my own assessment of the book in question. Errors of fact in the work of others are corrected silently but no doubt many new ones have also been introduced and I will be grateful to any reader who is able to spare the time to let me know of those that they find.

In the great majority of cases diaries have appeared in sole editions, but where the publishing history is more complicated an attempt has usually been made to outline the differences between editions, and modern editions or reprints are mentioned when these have been encountered as they will usually be more accessible than the earlier books. Where diaries are quoted or discussed in collections, studies or anthologies, a cross reference is given to that section of the bibliography, to which much attention has been given although it remains far from exhaustive. Anthologies are often much more accessible than the diaries themselves and, although the view is often partial, may be useful in helping to direct a line of enquiry.

The index4 is given in alphabetical order of diarists, although there remains some inconsistency in the ordering of names with the prefixes 'de', 'von' and 'van' for which I hope to be forgiven and which will be reduced to order in a future edition. The name is followed by the date, effectively the page number, under which the entry is to be found, and references to other bibliographies as in the main entry. The significance of the revision number has already been explained but a '+' following  that number indicates that new material has been introduced which modifies or amplifies that which can be found elsewhere. The section on Fictional Diaries and Misleading Titles, is at present an unindexed embryo of less than two pages but promises in the course of time to be of some value for the preservation of wild geese.

It remains only to thank my wife, Diana, for her encouragement and for her patient resignation to life in a house burrowed from piles of books which is the more noble because it does not end with the publication of this one.

Christopher Handley

Aldeburgh, 1997.


1. William Matthews was the pioneer in the field and his books, which are fully described in the section on Bibliographies of Diaries and have never been superseded, are: American Diaries, An Annotated Bibliography of American Diaries Written Prior to the Year 1861 (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1945); British Diaries, An Annotated Diary of British Diaries Written between 1442 and 1942 (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1950); Canadian Diaries and Autobiographies (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1950); and British Autobiographies, An Annotated Bibliography of British Autobiographies Published or Written before 1951 (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1955).

2. Patricia Pate Havlice: And So To Bed: A Bibliography of diaries Published in English (Metuchen, New Jersey, and London, The Scarecrow Press, 1987). For a full description see the section on Bibliographies of Diaries.

3. But see Preface to the Second Edition of this bibliography.

4. The Index is absent in the CD-ROM edition, as it is made redundant by the search facilities incorporated with the Adobe® Reader.

Introductions to all editions


An Annotated Bibliography of Diaries Printed in English