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The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives

January 21 through May 22, 2011

Exhibitions | Online

A Dark and Stormy Night: Charlotte Brontë (1816–1855). Fed up with teaching young girls their lessons, future novelist Charlotte Brontë began a diary entry that grew into a fictional fantasy.
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Dear Diary, Dear Beloved: Frances Eliza Grenfell (1814–1891). Forbidden to correspond with Charles Kingsley, the man she adored, Fanny Grenfell kept a diary in the form of unsent love letters instead.
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Diary of a Marriage: Sophia (1809–1871) and Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864). Newlyweds Sophia Peabody and Nathaniel Hawthorne chose to keep a diary together, making a joint record of intimate life in their new home.
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Generation Gap: Paul Horgan (1903–1994). As he observed the "self-flesh and self-sex absorption" of hippie culture in the late 1960s, novelist Paul Horgan confronted his own advancing age.
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Spinning and Sausage-making: Elizabeth Eastman Morgan (b. 1795). Elizabeth Morgan tracked the rhythms of small-town life—from pig-butchering to candle-making—in early nineteenth-century Massachusetts.
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Amazing Grace: John Newton (1725–1807). Once a slave trafficker, John Newton felt called to the ministry and wrote the most enduring hymn of all time—"Amazing Grace." He kept a copious diary of his spiritual progress.
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Niagara Honeymoon: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet (1800s). A newly married couple from England traveled through America during the 1840s and recorded their impressions in words and pictures.
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Fighting for Sanity: John Ruskin (1819–1900). After recovering from a psychotic break, English critic John Ruskin was determined to remain stable and continue to work. He tracked his health in his diary.
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Final Years of a Full Life: Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832). Sir Walter Scott spent the last years of his life furiously writing himself out of debt and resisting the "cold sinkings of the heart" that periodically dogged him.
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Pride and Piracy: Bartholomew Sharpe (ca. 1650–1690). As he terrorized Spanish towns and ships in the Americas, English pirate Bartholomew Sharpe kept a diary of his voyage and his exploits.
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Sex, Drugs, and Ennui: Tennessee Williams (1911–1983). At the height of his literary success, dramatist Tennessee Williams was full of anxiety and dependent on drugs and alcohol. His diary revealed his inner anguish.
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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.