Reading someone’s diary is the ultimate invasion of privacy, but publish it, and hey presto it becomes literature, history.
Did Samuel Pepys ever guess that people hundreds of years later would be reading about his (occasionally naughty) life?
Or Anne Frank that her diary would be one of the items of record documenting the horror that was the Holocaust?
Diaries are the most personal, and hence the most revealing form of writing there is. I’ve long admired The Assassin’s cloak which cleverly takes on a day to day form and features diary entries from a diverse set of characters including the aforementioned Pepys, Kafka and Goebbels. The editors have assembled The Secret Annexe which takes the same format and applies it to war diarists.
Do people still keep diaries, or do they use Facebook, Twitter and blogs to expose their doings/feelings? Whose diary would you like to accidentally come across?