Introduction to Select Bibliography of Published London Diaries

Page 111

Unpublished London Diaries. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 2003.

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In compiling the foregoing checklist of unpublished diaries I found numerous references to published London diaries. Many of them are very well-known, like the wonderful edition of the diary of Samuel Pepys by Robert Latham and William Matthews (Bell & Hyman, 1970–83), in nine volumes, with a companion volume and a full index, an exemplary work of scholarship to complement a wonderfully full and uninhibited journal of life in London in the 1660s. Other personal favourites of mine include William Tayler, a footman writing in 1837, and Ernest Baker, a schoolboy in 1881–82. I have therefore complemented the checklist with a bibliography of published editions. The field is so large, however, that the bibliography should not be regarded as comprehensive. Nevertheless, I hope that it will prove useful in conjunction with the unpublished sources. The bibliography is arranged by chronological order of diary starting date, with brief sections at first for general diary bibliographies, and for compilation volumes. Where more than one edition of a diary exists I have listed the most recent version. There is an index of authors and editors, but no subject index, which could only be so rudimentary as to be unhelpful.

Published diaries provide a most valuable quarry, though the editing process inevitably puts the user at one remove from the original. The high standards of much modern editing, giving clear indications of what has been omitted and how the material has been approached editorially, make this less of a problem than it once was. Editors of old, especially if they were piously presenting the diary of a great man to a respectful public, could be ruthlessly selective. The resulting edition can be oddly distorted and misleading and it is usually advisable to see the original, if still in existence. Those who edit their own diaries for publication are of course free to omit – or add – at will. As they frequently do.