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Friday, May 11, 2012

Dear Diary: A French sailor kissed Mummy and changed hats with her...

May 1, 1872
Wrote another sketch for the Independent: "A French Wedding," and the events of my travels paid my winter's expenses. All is fish that comes to the literary net. Goethe puts his joys and sorrows into poems; I turn my adventures into bread and butter.

~ Louisa May Alcott, from Louisa May Alcott: her life, letters, and journals, edited by Ednah Cheney

May 8, 1945
(Victory in Europe, or V.E. Day) Later that evening we decided to brave the West End. Mummy and Sid, who both remembered scenes of rape and wild debauchery from World War I, put on the most unseductive clothes they could find, with heavy man-proof trousers--everything in fact bar a couple of chastity belts. There was wild excitement in Trafalgar Square, half of London seemed to be floodlit . . . There were people dancing like crazy, jumping into fountains and climbing lamp-posts, and a dull red glow in the sky from bonfires which reminded us of the Blitz. Most of the pubs seemed to be out of booze, so I took them to the York Minster where the red wine was flowing in torrents . . . A French sailor kissed Mummy and changed hats with her, taking her little brown velvet cap and giving her his with a pom-pom on top . . . Sid got squiffy on one Pernod--it reminds her of absinthe and her art student days in Paris.

~ Joan Wyndham, from The Assassin’s Cloak: An Anthology of the World’s Greatest Diarists, edited by Irene and Alan Taylor

May 12, 1805
11 hour, the weather clear and calm. I walked on shore this morning for the benefit of exercise which I much wanted, and also to examine the country and its productions. In these excursions I most generally went alone, armed with my rifle and espontoon. Thus equipped, I feel myself more than an equal match for a brown bear, provided I get him in open woods or near the water, but feel myself a little diffident with respect to an attack in the open plains. I have therefore come to a resolution to act on the defensive only should I meet these gentlemen in the open country.

~ Captain Meriwether Lewis, from The Journals of Lewis and Clark

May 15, 1925
Two unfavourable reviews of Mrs. D; unintelligible, not art, etc., and a letter from a young man in Earls Court. "This time you have done it--you have caught life and put it in a book. . ." Please forgive this outburst, but further quotation is unnecessary; and I don’t think I should bother to write this if I weren’t jangled. What by? The sudden heat, I think, and the racket of life. It is bad for me to see my own photograph.

~ Virginia Woolf, from A Writer’s Diary, edited by Leonard Woolf