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A diary is a record (originally in written book format) with discreet entries arranged by date reporting on what has happened over the course of a day or other period. Diaries undertaken for institutional purposes play a role in many aspects of human civilization, including government records (e.g., Hansard), business ledgers and military record. Schools or parents may teach or require children to keep diaries in order to encourage the expression of feelings and to promote thought.

Generally the term is today employed for personal diaries, in which the writer may detail more personal information and normally intended to remain private or to have a limited circulation amongst friends or relatives. The word "journal" may be sometimes used for "diary," but generally one writes daily in a diary, whereas journal-writing can be less frequent.

Whilst a diary may provide information for a memoir, autobiography or biography, it is generally written not with the intention of being published as it stands, but for the author's own use. In recent years however there is internal evidence in some diaries (e.g., those of Alan Clark, Tony Benn or Simon Gray) that they are written with eventual publication in mind, with the intention of self-vindication (pre- or posthumous) or simply for profit .

Diaries are highly varied, from business notations, to listings of weather and daily personal events, to inner explorations of the human psyche, to expressions of one's deepest self to records of thoughts and ideas.

By extension the term diary is also used to mean a printed publication of a written diary; and may also refer to other terms of journal including electronic formats (e.g., blogs).

History

The word diary comes from the Latin diarium ("daily allowance," from dies "day"), found more often in the plural form diaria. The word journal comes from the same root (diurnus "of the day") through Old French jurnal (modern French for day is jour).

Until around the turn of the 20th century, with the worldwide rise of literacy, diary writing was generally a practice of the members of the middle and upper classes.

The oldest extant diaries come from Middle Eastern and East Asian cultures, although the even earlier work To Myself (Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν), written in Greek by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the second half of the 2nd century AD, already displays many characteristics of a diary. Pillowbooks of Japanesemarker court ladies and Asian travel journals offer some aspects of this genre of writing, although they rarely consist exclusively of diurnal records. The scholar Li Ao (9th century AD), for example, kept a diary of his journey through southern China.

In the medieval Near East, Arabic diaries were written from before the 10th century, though the surviving diary of this era which most resembles the modern diary was that of Ibn Banna in the 11th century. His diary is the earliest known to be arranged in order of date (ta'rikh in Arabic), very much like modern diaries.

Published diaries

Many diaries of notable figures have been published and form an important element of autobiographical literature.

Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) is the earliest diarist who is well-known today; his diaries, preserved in Magdalene College, Cambridgemarker, were first transcribed and published in 1825. Pepys was amongst the first who took the diary beyond mere business transaction notation, into the realm of the personal. Pepys' contemporary John Evelyn also kept a notable diary.

The practice of posthumous publication of diaries of literary and other notables began in the 19th century. As examples, the "Grasmere Journal" of Dorothy Wordsworth (1771-1855) was published in 1897; the Journals of Fanny Burney (1752-1840) were published in 1889; the diaries of Henry Crabb Robinson (1776-1867) were published in 1869.

Among important U.S. Civil War diaries are those of George Templeton Strong, a New Yorkmarker lawyer, and Mary Chestnut, the wife of a Confederate officer. The diary of Jemima Condict, living in the area of what is now West Orange, New Jerseymarker, includes local observations of the American Revolutionary War.

Since the 19th century the publication of diaries by their authors has become commonplace – notably amongst politicians seeking justification but also amongst artists and litterateurs of all descriptions. Amongst late 20th century British published political diaries, those of Richard Crossman, Tony Benn and Alan Clark are representative, the latter being more indiscreet in the tradition of the diaries of Chips Channon. In Britain in the field of the arts notable diaries were published by James Lees-Milne, Roy Strong and Peter Hall.

One of the most famous modern diaries, widely read and translated, is the posthumously published "Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank, who wrote it whilst in hiding during the German occupation of Amsterdammarker in the 1940s. Otto Frank edited his daughter's diary and arranged for its publication after the War.

The writing of diaries was also often practised from the 20th century onwards as a conscious act of self-exploration (of greater or lesser sincerity) – examples being the diaries of Carl Jung, Aleister Crowley and Anaïs Nin. Among important diaries by 20th-century literary figures are those of Franz Kafka and Edmund Wilson.

A strong psychological effect may arise from having an audience for one's self-expression, even if this is the book one writes in, only read by oneself - particularly in adversity. Anne Frank went so far as to name her diary "Kitty." Friedrich Kellner, a court official in Nazi Germany, thought of his diary as a weapon for any future fight against tyrants and terrorism, and named it "Mein Widerstand," "My Opposition." Victor Klemperer was similarly concerned with recording for the future the tyrannies and hypocrisies of Nazi Germany and of its East Germanmarker successor state in his diaries. In none of these cases however did the authors anticipate early — or indeed any — publication.

Journal writing software

While some people use standard word processing software to keep electronic journals or diaries there are computer programs that are designed specifically for journal writing. Many have templates for daily, weekly, monthly or random entries. These programs have been designed to allow journal and diary writers to capture their thoughts as well as images, links or other notable information easily and in one location. All such software is, of course, an aid in the keeping of a journal or diary and not the actual creation of it. A number of these programs offer the ability to post journal entries to Blogs. Some organizer software (e.g. Outlook and GoBinder) has the ability to make diary entries.

Internet diaries

As internet access became commonly available, many people adopted it as another medium in which to chronicle their lives with the added dimension of an audience. The first online diary is thought to be Claudio Pinhanez's "Open Diary," published at the MIT Media Labmarker website from 14 November 1994 until 1996. Other early online diarists include Justin Hall, who began eleven years of personal online diary-writing in 1994, Carolyn Burke, who started publishing "Carolyn's Diary" on 3 January 1995, and Bryon Sutherland, who announced his diary The Semi-Existence of Bryon in a USENET newsgroup on 19 April 1995.

Web-based services such as Open Diary (started in October, 1998) and LiveJournal (January, 1999) soon appeared to streamline and automate online publishing, but growth in personal storytelling came with the emergence of blogs. While the format first focused on external links and topical commentary, widespread blogging tools were quickly used to create web journals. Recent advances have also been made to enable the privacy of internet diary entries. For example, some diary software now stores entries in encrypted format, such 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption, and others only permit access to the diary after correct PIN entry on a secure USB device.

Other forms of diary

Travel journals

A travel journal, travel diary, or road journal, is the documentation of a journey or series of journeys.

Diet journal

A diet journal or food diary is a daily record of all food and beverage consumed, usually for the purpose of the tracking calorie consumption for the purpose of weight loss or other nutritional monitoring.

Workout journals

A workout journal, or exercise tracker, is a journal where one registers exercise undertaken, typically including length of workout and other comments.

Sleep diaries

A sleep diary or sleep log is a tool used in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders.

Audio journals

An audio journal records the spoken word instead of the written word. Some people use tape recorders or voice recorders to document their life.

Tagebuch

The German Tagebuch (a literal translation being 'day book') is normally rendered as diary in English, although this may include workbooks or working journals as well as diaries proper; for example, the notebooks of the Austrian writer Robert Musil.

Unusual diaries

Some officer cadets at the Royal Military College of Canadamarker wrote their diaries in India ink on their t-squares; examples of these from the 1880s are retained in the College's museum.

Fictional diaries

There are numerous examples of fictional diaries. One of the earliest printed fictional diaries was the humorous Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith and his brother Weedon. 20th century examples include radio broadcasts (e.g. Mrs. Dale's Diary) and published books (e.g. the Diaries of Adrian Mole). Both prompted long-running satirical features in the magazine Private Eyemarker: the former entitled Mrs Wilson's Diary in reference to Mary Wilson, wife of Prime Minister Harold Wilson, the latter entitled "The Secret Diary of John Major Aged 47¾" and written as a pastiche of the Adrian Mole diaries from the perspective of the then Prime Minister John Major.

See also



References

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