History Hoydens

Example

Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

19 April 2016

Fun with Primary Sources

Tracy talked recently about first person research. I've  been reading Boswell's London Journal 1762-1763 recently. It's nice, because the entries are small and I can read one or two whenever I have a moment to spare from whatever else I'm doing.



As these were his private journals, he's quite frank in them. And it's interesting to see just how a single man about town whiled away his time. For example, here is a typical entry, dated Saturday 4 December (1762):



I breakfasted with Dempster. He accompanied me into the City. He parted from me at St. Paul's, and I went to Child's, where there was not much said. I dined and drank tea with Lady Betty Macfarlane. We were but cold and dull. The Laird was low and disagreeable. I resolved to dine there no more; at least very, very seldom. At night, Erskine and I strolled through the streets and St. James's Park. Were were accosted there by several ladies of the town [whores]. Erskine was very humorous and said some very wild things to them. There was one in a red cloak of a good buxom person and comely face whom I marked as a future piece, in case of exigency.



This entry has a footnote which also gives Boswell's daily memoranda of the same day (yes, the man kept TWO different forms of journal of his daily life!).



Breakfast first at home. Then in Bath [coat] and old grey [suit] and stick, sally to City. Send off North Britons to Digges. Get the one of the day. Go to Child's, take dish of coffee, read Auditor, Monitor, Briton. Then come to Douglas's and inquire about parade. Then Leicester [Street], dine. Be comfortable yet genteel, and please your friend Captain Erskine. Drink tea. Then home, quiet, and wind up the week's journal in grey and slippers. Be always in bed before twelve. Never sup out. Breakfast R> Mackye Sunday and take franks [get Mackye to send his mail for free]."



Clearly, I need to see about tracking down a copy of Boswell's memoranda to go with the journals. I love this kind of daily minutia. It really helps me fill out my scenes, understand how my characters would have spent their time, and how they would have thought about the world.

3 Comments:

Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Love this! I haven't actually read Boswell's diary though I have read extracts. So great for writing about daily life.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Another resource for me to track down! What I love most is the idea he thought to journal about his every day life. I guess blogs might qualify these days, but the act of sitting down and putting actual pen to paper to record the events of a day is appealing to me. I guess it is the history geek inside who absolutely adores this sort of thing.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Rachel Donnelly said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I'm dying to read it.

11:20 AM  

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