Once upon a time, people blogged in an entirely different format. This was called 'writing a diary' and is a custom that seems to have, almost entirely, died out.
Unlike those of us who choose to expose our thoughts to the censure of the world almost immediately after they have popped into our heads, these diarists wrote (mostly) for themselves and to remind themselves of their daily lives. Only occasionally did they have an eye on posterity.
So, with my interest in blogs, it is fairly safe to assume that I like diaries too - yet I very rarely read them. There's so many mundane musings to trawl through until you get to the entries that really capture the interest. What's needed is an anthology of the creme de la creme. And, thankfully, someone at Canongate books has obliged.
'The Assassin's Cloak' is an anthology of the world's greatest diarists. Split out into the days of year, each date has a handful of entries from writers that range from the likes of Peyps and Alan Bennett, to Peter Hall and Fanny Kemble. It is a rich store of life and offers some very different perspectives on the passing years.
Take today's date, for instance - July 22nd. Nestled amongst musings on the weather in 1873 and the roads in 1990, are these two interesting entries.
William L. Shirer (author of 'The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich') wrote in 1940 'Hitler has given Mussolini a birthday present. It's an anti-aircraft armoured train.'
In stark contrast, we find Andy Warhol commenting in 1986 'I've been watching this stuff on Fergie [Duchess of York] and I wonder why doesn't the Queen Mother get married again.'
It's a wonderful book to dip into now and again, when you're not quite sure what book to throw yourself into next, but are in need of a little literary sustenance. Why not try it here - comment with a date (birthday, or just something at random) and I'll pick out an entry that intrigues and enthralls!