The Diary of Samuel Pepys

In early fall, I accomplished a long-term goal: to read The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Actually, I listened to it on audio CDs, which took seven hours. In many ways, that was better. I have always enjoyed reading first-person historical accounts, and I think that’s why Pepys’ diary appeals to me. He kept the diary for ten years. Failing eyesight forced him to stop. Pepys worked for the Royal Navy and was later a member of Parliament. A more complete summary of his life is here. The diary is an amazing portrait of the man, his tie, and the historical events and people that surrounded him. He doesn’t get deeply into his own feelings, but records what his day was like and his observations. Most people remember his accounts of the Great Fire of London, and the Plague in London. He talks about his work and cultural events. Though a devoted play-goer, he wasn’t too enamored of Shakespeare’s plays. He didn’t have much to say about them. And like anyone else, he had his good points and bad points. Here are some quotes from the diary.

Most editions of the diary that I have ever seen in libraries have been abridged editions. The diary is simply too large to read in its entirety. Pepys seems to have intended it for eventual publication, because some of the pages were bound and in his massive library when they were found. He also wrote in a code, and it took researchers a long time to decipher it. Different editions have been published. After I read the diary, I searched the library catalog to see what else had been written. I found at least two biographies and one novel about him and his wife.

I began journaling again about a year ago. I have many notebooks to fill. I don’t always do it every day, but I commit ideas to paper more frequently. Writing by hand and in pen can sometimes be slow and painful, but it is worth it. I find that it helps me focus. It’s also a record of the happenings in my life. But I doubt anyone would ever find it interesting. It feels enjoyable again.








Filed under Classics, Goals, History, Uncategorized

3 responses to “The Diary of Samuel Pepys

  1. I’ve got an abridged version of his diary too- called The Illustrated Pepys, 1979.Has some colour paintings of the Fire of London as well! I just opened a page and it is a very rude entry about that he’s doing to a “Deb”, who I think was a servant girl, and his wife is angry! ( Don’t blame her).

    • Hi!

      The edition you have sounds really beautiful! BTW, I agree with you about Pepys’ wife. Must’ve been very difficult to live with the jerk.

      Take care,


      • Yes it is. I will have to make a blog post about it. It is from 1979 so will fit nicely in my vintage books category! Yes, I think Pepys mustn’t have been the ideal husband! There was another diarist around the same time, who was totally different- to my shame I forgot his name- who wrote some great diaries, and was altogether a more honourable fellow from all accounts! I will have to do another web search to find him again.
        I look forward to more bookish blog posts from you.
        Best Wishes!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s