In the High Peaks

Friday, August 27, 2010


I'm in the midst of rounding up published journals and diaries for my Reading and Writing Workshop class. This class will include students who need lots and lots of reading and writing practice. They will be keeping a journal throughout the semester and will also, hopefully, start a blog on a subject of intense, personal interest.

I've now scanned the entire contents of The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition by Anne Frank and I've studied the college journal of Sylvia Plath in The Unabriged Journals of Sylvia Plath. Oh, I was not prepared for the Unabridged after reading the (abridged) Journals of Sylvia Plath. So much more depth, what an incredible talent, so hard to take that she took her life in her early 30s.

I've also ferreted out lots of journals written by members of the male persuasion. The great explorers Lewis and Clark, male homesteaders west on the Oregon Trail in the 1840s, war journals; but I must say, isn't it interesting that most men do not keep diaries? Presidents have, of course. And soldiers have. I will have to balance the women diarists with soldiers and presidents!


  1. An interesting trend in the UK is the rushed-out versions of politicians after they've left office; it sort of seems like there was barely a member of the Blair/Brown government who wasn't keeping a diary. It sort of makes me wonder how they had time!

  2. Hi Judith,

    I've been preparing a post on 'commonplace books' as my second last classics month post.

    I was wondering if you'd heard of commonplace books? There's a few really interesting one that function as journals and ideas books for writers like Mark Twain and EM Forster. Forster's is still in print - they're not exactly diaries in the form of Anne Frank's journal, but they're interesting for aspiring writers as they show (I think) the messiness and expanse of creativity.

    Anyway, just thought I'd mention it. I'm sure you've heard of them, maybe they might be useful in class sometime.