Category Archives: Famous Diarists


Famous Diarist – Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka DiariesIt’s hard for a lot of individuals to understand the significance of keeping a diary. Some believe that this is merely something a disgruntled teenager does to create an outlet for their angst. However, some of the most influential writers in history have kept personal diaries. Take Franz Kafka for example. This 19th century writer was a big player in the existentialism field, and his literary works are revered by critics even today.

Kafka not only spent much of his life writing novels and short stories, but he chronicled much of his life in his own personal diaries. Today, the writer’s innermost thoughts and feelings can be examined. The world at large can glean a lot more knowledge due to the recording of his personal thoughts. Continue reading

Vladimir Favorsky, Woodcut of Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1929[1]

Famous diarist – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Fyodor DostoevskyPeople of this generation who want to record a diary have a lot of options available to them, but it’s not necessarily the Internet that they should be thanking. Bloggers, for example, are most certainly a type of diarist, as it stands that a blog is similar to a diary entry. But this type of diary was around long, long before computers were. In fact, one of the first “bloggers” around was Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a Russian writer.

Fyodor was famous for his writings. Whether it was a novel, an essay, or even a literary battle with another writer, his monthly publications (which required subscribers) was incredibly blog-like in its approach, drawing in a lot of subscribers. His works have withstood the test of time, but it’s his habits as a diarist which intrigue people the most. Continue reading

Samuel Pepys

Famous diarist – Samuel Pepys

portrait-of-samuel-pepys-john-haylsFor fans of personal journals and autobiographic writings, time is a very interesting aspect of any diarist’s musings. The further back you go, the more intriguing the writing becomes. Sure, most of us can understand the 1950s and perhaps even the 1850s, even if we weren’t around back then. These periods have been extensively chronicled. But just push that back another 200 years to the 1650s. Imagine how exceedingly different life was back then. Imagine the diary of a man like Samuel Pepys.

With Samuel Pepys’ diaries, the reader gets some incredible insight into life in the 1600s. What’s even more impressive about Pepys’ diaries in particular is that it shows how a man with relatively no experience can rise up through the ranks in such a period. He wasn’t a nobleman of wealth; he wasn’t another in a long line of naval men. But he was extremely intelligent and hard-working, and his diaries paint a vivid picture of how life was in a period long gone. Continue reading


Famous diarist – Harry S. Truman

harry-trumanThe odds are great that, in a hundred years or so, the average person’s diaries won’t warrant that much attention. That’s just a fact of life; not everyone is as famous and/or as revered as other individuals out there. However, most of the famous diaries that we do respect in this day and age where written by men and women who had no aspirations of leaving a lasting impression when they started their journals. Things just worked out that way.

Take former American President Harry S. Truman as a perfect example of this. Of course, since he was one of America’s most influential Presidents, his diaries are considered treasures now. But long before Truman had any presidential aspirations, keeping a diary and recording his personal thoughts was just a habit. Because of this habit, of course, we now have great insight into the mind of a very important man in world history. Continue reading


Famous diarist – Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol DiaristOne of the most intriguing aspects about a diary or personal writings is that they give people an intimate look at the writer long after that writer is gone. Some people fully intend to have their personal journals read after their death, while others really give no thought of it and simply write down their innermost feelings on a whim, only to have them compiled into a diary after they’ve passed on.

Such is the case with one of the most famous artists of recent memory, Andy Warhol. In fact, most of the famous Andy Warhol diaries weren’t even penned by the man himself, but rather his personal secretary, Pat Hackett, who jotted down Andy’s words verbatim via phone conversations and then typed them. Continue reading

Woolf - Widow and Parrot - Redbook 001[1]

Famous diarist – Virginia Woolf

EOHoppe_Virginia_WoolfWith widespread media available like blogs, YouTube, Facebook and other social sites, keeping a personal journal is easier than ever today. It has prompted more people to record more of their personal lives than at any other point in world history. But even with so many new journals, diary buffs still appreciate the personal entries from famous and influential personalities just as much. Like Virginia Woolf’s personal diaries, for example.

Famous for her interwar period works, such as To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Dalloway and Orlando, Virginia made her mark as perhaps the most important modernist of the 20th century. She was also a very extensive diary writer, with 7 different volumes coming out after her death, dealing with everything from her general thoughts to her many travels.

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Famous diarist – Marcus Aurelius

marcus-aureliusEvery once in a great while, you may find something in your life that truly changes your perspective. If you’re a diary fan, for example, you may have read different diaries from different figures throughout history, like Virginia Woolf, President Truman, Anne Frank, or Lewis Carroll. While these older diaries can be intriguing, the fact of the matter is that, in context, most of them are fairly recent. If you want to really go back, a diary like Marcus Aurelius’, former Roman Emperor, will give you a picture of life that you may have never imaged.

Marcus Aurelius ruled Rome unlike a lot of others before him. Ruling in the 100s (yes, the one-hundreds), Aurelius’ diary entries show an incredibly intelligent man for his time. He was considered a great philosopher, a kind soul, and his Stoic tome Meditations, which were written in Greek during a military campaign from 170 to 180, is a collection of works revered as some of the most important of that era or any other. Continue reading


Famous diarist – George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard ShawThere’s something about humanity that absolutely adores a writer. While much of the celebrity-obsessed world today obviously enjoys the on-screen actors and the people in front of the camera, this is a relatively new phenomenon. For centuries, the actors were just the face of the words. It was always the individual writers, like the playwrights, who enjoyed the most fame. Other than William Shakespeare, perhaps the most famous playwright in history was George Bernard Shaw.

Shaw’s influence on popular culture is undeniable, and throughout his long and illustrious life he won a Nobel Prize in Literature (1925) and even an Academy Award for an Adapted Screenplay (1938, Pygmalion). For diary buffs out there, Shaw also kept some pretty intriguing journals.

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Famous diarist – Lewis Carroll or Charles Lutwidge Dodgson

lewis carrollIn today’s age of modern media, keeping a personal diary is something that can be easily done. If you’re the type of individual who likes to jot thoughts down on a piece of paper, you can write your own blog. Don’t like typing? That’s okay, too; you can start a video journal and post your videos online. The possibilities are endless, but just because there are multiple methods by which to record your thoughts today, that doesn’t mean diaries are a new phenomenon.

Many of the world’s most gifted people have kept diaries throughout history, including famous scientists, emperors, artists, presidents, and even authors like Lewis Carroll.

Carroll’s diaries are especially intriguing. His diaries reveal painfully personal details about his life, and there has also been quite a bit of controversy surrounding Lewis’ “missing diaries” – pages that were suspiciously torn out after the author’s death. Continue reading


Famous diaries – Anne Frank

Diary of Anne FrankA diary is, very simply put, a person’s recorded thoughts. These days, of course, the record includes digital mediums, such as video cameras and audio recorders. But all throughout history, as soon as the written word became a part of the culture, many individuals kept a diary or its equivalent. Some of these diaries have become incredibly famous over the course of history, such as Anne Frank’s diary.

From movies being made about Anne’s arduous ordeals to her diaries actually being taught in school in multiple courses, Anne Frank and her diary is perhaps the most recognizable in all of history. It’s also a great way to realize just how powerful the written word is, especially when the writer is no longer around to tell the tale.

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