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The Private Life of the Diary from Pepys to Tweets

Wednesday 6 April 2016

1 Hour


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Writer, teacher and researcher Dr Sally Bayley looks at the life of the diary through great diarists such as Virginia Woolf and Pepys and asks what the diary is for and what we should make of the 21st-century explosion of self-disclosure via online blogs and video and radio diaries.

Bayley says the traditional diary kept secrets and was a place for confessions. Woolf’s diaries contain personal frustrations about her servants, comment on the passing of history and even on a solar eclipse. Today, young people are the most frequent users of online diaries or blogs and traditional diary writing is on the wane. Bayley says the large number of young people using this form is a clear indication of the role of a journal or diary – the search for an identity in relation to the world.

Bayley is a teaching and research fellow at the Rothermere American Institute and a lecturer in English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She has written widely on visual responses to literature including Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath’s Art of the Visual, and is also author of Home on the Horizon: America’s Search for Space, from Emily Dickinson to Bob Dylan.