One of the most intimate things we can do is to keep a journal. It provides us with an outlet for all of our most innermost and private thoughts, along with our hopes and dreams. It provides stress relief and depression management for many and the chance to impart knowledge and wisdom to others. Some use a writing journal to discover their creative talents and the most famous diaries in the world have entertained millions of people over the years.
Reading the intimate thoughts of someone is fascinating and it can provide us with a mental picture of that person’s life, including their experiences and surroundings. When that person is a well-known figure, this can generate a huge amount of interest and some diaries have sold millions of copies worldwide.
Hidden Teen Girl
An absolute favorite is that of Anne Frank, the teenage Jew that hid in a secret annex behind a bookcase for over two years of her short life. It has sold over 30 million copies and has been translated into 67 languages. So why is this diary so popular? After all, Anne was unknown at the time and yet her work stands out from any other teenage girl’s diary.
Anne kept her journal as a way of keeping her mind busy and to get her creative juices flowing. She was an aspiring young author and the way she wrote her memoirs was informative, detailed and at times humorous. She gave readers an insight into life as a Jew at the time of the Holocaust and it delivers an incredibly powerful message to anyone who reads it. It is incredibly expressive and readers can almost feel the mixture of despair, courage and hope that emanates from the pages.
Another well-known diary is that of Anais Nin. She was an author who was born to Cuban parents in France, but lived most of her life in the United States of America. Her personal journals spanned over six decades and provide a remarkable insight into not only her own life and relationships, but also those of various male celebrities. What fun!
She described her own personal diary as her “kief, hashish and opium pipe (and her) drug and vice” and believed that it is “the moments of emotional crisis that human beings reveal themselves most accurately.” This is a telling description of the way she lived her life and the tales of narcissism are fascinating.
She describes the world of the Bohemian artist in Paris and her ability to describe relationships and personality is simply stunning. She was inspired by the influential author D.H.Lawrence and has in turn inspired many more writers to embark on their own creative and reflective journeys.
Another well-known journal writer who went on an incredible journey of his own, is Captain Robert Scott. He was a British explorer, best known for his expedition to the South Pole in November 1911. Due to horrendous weather conditions and a lack of support for dogs to help pull the sleds, the four members of the team died one by one of exhaustion and severe frostbite.
Scott’s diary tells the stories of polar explorers, including their voyage, scientific work and sledging expeditions. This gives us a fascinating insight into a brave new world and his last entries are among some of the most powerful and rousing words in literary history:
“We are weak, writing is difficult, but for my own sake I do not regret this journey, which has shown that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another, and meet death with as great a fortitude as ever in the past.”
This is such an important diary, for it tells us so much about the human spirit in desperate times. It is also a lasting testament to a brave group of men, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of science.
A controversial figure in history wrote diaries, which gave us a valuable insight into the Nazi Party in the Second World War. Josef Goebbels was Adolf Hitler’s Minister for Propaganda for 12 years and his diary entries tell us how he was enchanted by Hitler and Nazi ideology. He wrote of Hitler as a sort of father figure and even went so far as to say he loved him, showing us just how much he admired and almost worshiped him.
It is perhaps quite surprising that a man so intent in spreading evil wrote down his thoughts and experiences, for this is real evidence of the horrors that the Nazi Party imposed. The secrecy which surrounded their missions was enormous, yet his personal diary gives us incredible insight into Hitler’s thoughts and deeds.
Keeping a personal journal was almost therapeutic for him and his candid entries are one of the most remarkable pieces of literary history regarding the Second World War.
Another momentous journal that was kept to record thoughts, fears and problems was that kept by the fated Tsar Nicholas II. It offers the reader a picture of daily life in the Alexander Palace and beyond. Millions of people have had a long love affair with the tale of the Tsar and his family and his diary entries feed that lust for knowledge. Many of the entries are very simple and describe activities such as eating breakfast together or bathing the children. However they are simply fascinating, as the life of the last Tsar and his family has become a bit of a mystical story. His method of describing the weather fits so perfectly with the despair he was feeling at the time.
Russia was a turbulent place during his reign, with uprisings and mass poverty causing much unrest. The Tsar’s diary gives us an insight into how this privileged, yet severely stressed, man viewed the world around him. It tells us of his views, his experiences and the innocent shock he felt when the people turned against him.
For anyone who loves history, his own journal, together with the love letters between him and his wife, are a pure literary and cultural delight. They heighten the romance of the reign and fill in the gaps of what they wanted for the Russian people.
Another well-known journal writer that recorded important events that transformed political landscapes, is Alastair Campbell. The British journalist and political aide was Tony Blair’s press secretary and trusted confidant. Among his diaries was the hugely important book ‘The Blair Years’, in which he captured the rise of New Labour in Britain.
This compelling diary gives readers an insight into the changing face of British politics, from a source as close as you could get to Tony Blair, the man leading the way. It portrays huge events such as Lady Diana’s death, the troubles in Iraq and the Hutton Inquiry in 2003. What better way to know the mind of one of the most important men in modern British politics, than to read the diary of someone so close to him?
It is so important to record events, including the reasons and consequences, from a personal viewpoint as this offers an insight like no other. Some journals are too important to never be read.
There have been many famous journal writers over the years, some for their own benefit and some to serve a wider purpose. There have also been fictional diaries, such as that in the Sue Townsend novel The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾. While the book offers us a fun insight into the mind of a teenage boy, it also refers to historic world events.
The Falklands War and the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana are described in such a fun and interesting way, with the author’s humour really shining through and providing an excellent read. Writing a fictional diary is a great way to inject some warmth and humour into historical facts, making them seem more personal and relatable to the reader.
The journals of famous writers have long provided us with a glimpse into a world many of us will never know and they will continue to entertain us long into the future. The more serious among them give us important facts and thoughts, with the more light-hearted journals providing some relief from daily stresses.
There are many people who find writing a daily journal therapeutic, writing down their thoughts to clear their head and make sense of it all. The 5 minute journal is a lovely concept that was created in 2013, with one of the creators having a background in behavioral science.
The diary has sold thousands of copies and uses a beautiful, simple design. The pages include inspirational quotes and weekly challenges, as well as places to write down what would make your day great and what you feel grateful for. It oozes positivity and one well-known advocate is author Tim Ferriss.
Tim uses the 5 minute journal every day, as a “therapeutic intervention…that allows me to not only get more done during the day but to also feel better throughout the entire say, to be a happier person, to be a more content person.”
By writing down his thoughts and problems, it clears his head to focus on the things that really matter to him. This calming daily habit has helped him to move forward in life and it can do the same for so many others.
A journal can be a place for exploring one’s self and the creativity of some really sets them apart. Whatever the reason for a famous person keeping a diary, it is sure to be popular among readers who are hungry for a glimpse into the world of the celebrity. Famous historical diary writers keep their memories alive through the power of words and their work will be around for years to come.