I wanted to share a book with you that has been wildly inspiring to me the past few months: Great Diaries: The world’s most remarkable diaries, journals, notebooks and letters published by DK. (In the US, it’s published as “Remarkable Diaries instead).
It’s a fascinating collection of journals beginning with the oldest on record (thousands of years old). They are sourced from a variety of countries and cultures, and are both fascinating looks into famous people’s diaries and anonymous everyday people throughout the ages.
Let’s start with the Journaling Overachiever himself, Leonardo da Vinci. We get it dude, you are a motherfucking geniusssss. I dig how he’s so clearly just trying to FIGURE SHIT OUT in his pages though. Baby grow in thick capsule, yes?
Another overachiever. Ole Charlie Darwin.
But I fucking LOVE those little spidery marks. That’s him thinking through his theory of evolution by representing surviving lineages of species with a fine line at the end of a branch.
An artist, Delacroix travelled and kept a watercolour journal that later informed his paintings. Those paintings plus words… they give me life!
Oh I adored this one. An entrepreneur from the 1800s called both “Anne Lister” and “Gentleman Jack,” and kept an extended diary about their homosexuality.
I love, and only love, the fairer sex… my heart revolts from any other love than theirs.
Explorers of the USA map out a river over hundreds of kilometres.
An explorer takes notes and makes rudimentary notes about wildlife and fishtraps.
This wildly illustrated book from the 1500s by a fishmonger documenting sea life.
There are many, many, many more… and I had a hard time deciding what to include in here. There are more modern journals included as well – these are the ones I found most fascinating.
I’ve pored over every page, reading a couple pages each day while I eat soup for lunch. It’s astonishing and beautiful, and reminds me of how important my own journals are. That the simple act of having a place to record life, and work through my own ideas and thoughts is revolutionary.
And that I am a part of an important lineage… of people trying to figure shit out on paper, and documenting this rare, brilliant world we live in.