If you keep a diary or journal recording your thoughts and feelings; what goes on in your life or maybe what you wish went on, then you are in good company. You join the ranks of the great adventurers, royalty and celebrities who recorded events from the everyday mundane to their innermost secrets that can only be shared with a pen and paper.
A journal makes an ideal soundboard where you can bounce ideas around without anyone accusing you of being a lunatic or a loser; it can be the place for your mementoes and keepsakes and somewhere you can revisit when you need an emotional boost, a bit like watching your all time favourite film.
It can also be a great place to sound-off without fear of repercussions. To write down exactly what you thought of a boy or girlfriend or just how much you hate your aunt for telling your mum about that navel piercing. You can underline to the point where the biro virtually goes through the page or put 100 exclamation marks !!! or call someone a rude name *…* and no one need ever know or find out….or at least that’s what you hope.
If you keep a diary and it has salacious details of your latest fling or the outburst of a lover scorned or maybe details of that fraudulent claim you made on your insurance policy, then it maybe something you would rather no one else read. But there it is, in black & white, the proof of the pudding for the public, or worse still, your sons or daughters to see.
If you keep a diary, perhaps you need to leave explicit instructions in your will that they must be destroyed without anyone looking through them, or maybe you should start selecting the pages you don’t mind being seen by all and sundry. Unless of course you are lucky enough to have someone you trust who can do it for you…
Queen Victoria’s journals were put online in May 2012 for everyone to see; an opportunity to take a look behind the scenes of the life of the Victorian ‘royal’, to get a taste of just what Victoria’s life was like from her closely monitored childhood, her Coronation, marriage, life as the Queen and her very sad widowhood.
Victoria started a diary in 1832 when she was 13 years old:
“This book, Mamma gave me, that I might write the journal of my journey to Wales in it”
and continued until her death in January 1901:
“From not having been well, I see so badly, which is very tiresome”
It’s all here to see http://www.queenvictoriasjournals.org/info/about.do
…but is it?
Victoria’s youngest daughter, Beatrice was given the task of editing her mother’s diaries, destroying anything that was not suitable for public consumption. There are 13 volumes that survive but around 2/3 were destroyed and of course it’s those pages where she might have said what she really thought about Lord Conyngham or for that matter, her role as queen.
So the underlined bits are gone for good.
But there are other diaries where everything was kept and for good reason. Anne Frank, a German Jew who was born 12 June 1929 in Frankfurt and moved to Amsterdam in 1933 to escape Nazi persecution, kept a journal interestingly enough also from her 13th birthday:
“I hope I will be able to confide everything to you…you will be a great source of comfort and support”
Her family went into hiding one month later when her sister Margot was ‘called up’ which meant she was going to be taken to a concentration camp. They hid for two years in a secret annexe at the back of Otto Frank’s office until they were betrayed and sent to Westerbork. Anne, Margot and their mother died but her father survived to fulfil his daughter’s wish to become a writer:
“After the war I’d like to publish a book called The Secret Annexe…my diary can serve as a basis”
Anne’s diary and letters can be seen here http://www.annefrank.org/en/Anne-Frank/The-diary-of-Anne-Frank/
So, I hear you ask, what about your diaries? Well OK, I can reveal I have kept a diary since I was 13 (have you noticed a pattern emerging?) and I put plenty in there about my school life, my sisters who I didn’t get on with particularly well and life changing events including flirting with the Boys’ Brigade who used the local sailing club near West Bridgford.
There are pages and pages of my early teenage life, the excitement of realising boys were not just there to have fights with, my first trip into town with friends and family holidays. It also tells more harrowing stories including what happened in the wake of my sister’s tragic death in a car accident, how I coped with a difficult pregnancy and how close I came to losing my first born son to a near fatal heart condition.
So plenty of memories I can reconnect with and relive, though some are probably best left alone.
P.S Twitter fans can follow Queen Victoria @QueenVictoriaRI although twitter activity finished in June 2012 there are still some interesting tweets; and for Anne Frank follow @AnnFrankTrust Other diarists on Twitter include @samuelpepys