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Have you ever wondered what is written in the pages of a famous person’s diary?
In this post, you’ll see some sample pages from the notebooks of nine famous people who kept diaries. these individuals lived in different times and worked in different fields. but his preserved notebooks recorded his thoughts. they allow us a glimpse into their lives and provide context for some of the most significant moments in history.
People have been writing in journals for over a thousand years. one of the earliest recorded works that was similar to a diary was that of emperor marcus aurelius, ruler of rome in the second century a.d.!
But what exactly is it that forces us to keep diaries and diaries?
(Side note: Don’t know the “right” way to journal? If so, check out this seven-step process for creating a journaling habit that sticks.)
the benefits of keeping a diary
There are a lot of benefits we can get from journaling. These positive effects prompt us to take a notebook and write down our ideas. some benefits include:
Keep reading to see some journals written by the most famous people in history. we hope they inspire you to keep a diary yourself.
famous people who kept diaries
1. leonardo da vinci
If there is one word used to describe Leonardo da Vinci, it is genius. he was well known as a master painter, architect, sculptor and inventor, and his ideas were far ahead of his time.
many of his surviving works are currently on display in prestigious museums and galleries around the world.
During his lifetime, da Vinci made notes about his ideas, inventions, and studies. today, an estimated 7,000 pages of those magazines survive.
The image shown here is a two-page extension to Da Vinci’s Codex Leicester. bill gates bought the 72-page magazine in 1994.
2. frida kahlo
through open culture
frida kahlo was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. she was best known for her vibrant and uncompromising self-portraits. Frida’s artwork often had themes of death, human anatomy, and personal identity. Her journals recorded her dreams and thoughts, and there are also poems found within her pages.
frida’s diaries also served as her sketchbooks, which she used for some of her illustrations. look at the example above, painted in bright colors.
3. mary curie
via scientific alert
marie curie was known as the “mother of modern physics”. She and her husband, Pierre Curie, discovered polonium and radium. For this discovery and her research on radioactivity, Marie Curie became a two-time winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
This sample page from his journal details the research he conducted on the theory of radioactivity. this diary, along with several of his other personal effects, are recognized as national treasures.
The nature of her work caused Marie Curie’s body and personal belongings to become radioactive. She was also known to keep bits of radioactive material in her pocket.
marie curie died of a type of anemia caused by exposure to the radioactive elements on which she worked. To avoid contamination, she was buried in a lead-lined coffin.
Your journals, while available for viewing, can only be viewed by someone wearing protective gear and having signed a liability waiver. The magazines can be found in the National Library of Paris, kept in boxes lined with lead.
4. Anne Frank
via the smithsonian magazine
anne frank is one of the most discussed personalities of the second world war. he gained fame posthumously, following the discovery and publication of his diary. she is said to have changed the way the world viewed war.
Anne Frank was a Jewish teenager living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, when World War II broke out. She and her family hid from the Gestapo in a secret room in the building where Anne’s father, Otto Frank, worked.
After a few years in hiding, the Gestapo captured the family. anne and her sister were sent to auschwitz. Unfortunately, Anne passed away a few months before the Allied forces liberated Auschwitz. Otto Frank was the only survivor of the family.
anne frank’s diary was discovered in the building where they hid. It was given to Otto Frank, who published her daughter’s chronicles of her life in hiding.
5. mark two (samuel clemens)
via endpaper (the paperblanks blog)
samuel clemens, also known as mark twain, is the author who introduced us to huckleberry finn and tom sawyer and allowed us to share their adventures.
mark twain was a well known journal writer during his lifetime and preferred pocket notebooks. he often started a new journal for each trip he made. he jotted down ideas, inspiration and thoughts for future stories.
Magazines can tell us a lot about the personalities of their owners. the example above is a list of names for a character in a story. In this case, we glimpse the humorous side of Mark Twain. Wouldn’t it be interesting to read a story about someone called “swamp diphtheria” or “briggs dysentery”?
6. Charles Darwin
through the genealogical world of phylogenetic networks
charles darwin introduced the world to the theory of natural selection, and his notebooks give us a glimpse of how he processed his ideas.
In this sample page taken from one of his field journals, we see charles darwin’s representation of a tree. this tree is meant to represent the genealogy of a particular species.
7. emilie davies
via villanova university falvey memorial library
emilié davis lived in philadelphia during the us civil war. During this period of unrest in the country, she kept a diary and recorded the events that occurred and affected her life as a free African-American woman.
his written account paints a vivid picture of black life during this period of history. Davis recorded his daily activities, his feelings about the Battle of Gettysburg, and what happened during the Emancipation Proclamation. His diaries even captured the emotional landscape of the country during and after President Lincoln’s death.
8. lewis carroll
via morgan library and museum
charles dodgson, an english writer who called himself lewis carroll, gave the world the adventures of alice in wonderland. it was said that he was a diarist since he was 10 years old.
Several of the journals from his adulthood survived. The example above shows her diary entry from the first time she shared the story about the adventures of her beloved character Alice.
9. thomas edison
via the thomas edison papers
many of us wonder if famous people live their lives differently from us. however, thomas edison’s diary demonstrates that this may not be the case.
In the summer of 1885, the great inventor was on vacation and during that time he kept a diary.
Entries lacked science topics. instead, the diary recorded mundane events.
In the example above, we can read that Edison was worried about his smoking habit, how he had twisted his upper lip into a tan curl, and how he hated the “nicotine” feeling it gave him.
This shows that a great inventor like Edison also had to deal with ordinary problems, just like the rest of us.
final thoughts on famous people who kept diaries
journaling is a great practice to adopt. It doesn’t require much effort, and it has numerous benefits for our health and well-being.
We hope these examples of famous diary keepers inspire you to become a diary too.
Here are several resources you can refer to to help you get started in the habit of journaling:
Finally, if you don’t know the “right” way to journal, check out this seven-step process to create a journaling habit that sticks.