Wednesday 20th February 2008

The site has been mentioned favourably a few times in the press recently, mainly due to its inclusion in Ultimate Blogs: Masterworks from the Wild Web by Sarah Boxer (Amazon US, UK). Here’s a quick summary for those who are interested.

‘Short Cuts’ in the London Review of Books:

The best of the lot, though, is the diary of Samuel Pepys, which a web designer called Phil Gyford has been posting in daily instalments since 2003, using the text already online at Project Gutenberg. It doesn’t exactly not fit in here, which rather puts paid to the whole idea that there’s something ‘distinctly bloggy’ about the style of blogs.

‘A Book of Blogs?’ in Newsweek:

Take the most striking example. In “Ultimate Blogs” you’ll find excerpts from the Diary of Samuel Pepys, a 17th-century English naval administrator and member of Parliament. Beginning Jan. 1, 2003, a Web designer and programmer named Phil Gyford began serializing Pepys’s diary online as a blog. The result is a fascinating experiment and a wickedly fun read. But why include it here? The Pepys (pronounced peeps) diary was originally published as a book. Yes, it was neat to see how it translated to the Web. But now, for reasons that are never explained, here we have it in book form again. Dizzy yet?

‘Blogs Without the Links’ in the New York Times:

Diary of Samuel Pepys, a blog that is run by the Web designer Phil Gyford and consists solely of entries from the renowned diaries of the 17th-century Londoner Samuel Pepys.

Unrelated to the book, the site also gets a mention in ‘High-Design Bible Draws Attention’ in the Wall Street Journal:

The diary of Samuel Pepys has been turned into a blog, with daily entries corresponding to the 17th-century original, at www.pepysdiary.com. The creator, British actor Phil Gyford, says the site gets around 35,000 unique visitors each month. “I thought I’d like to read the diaries, but the 10 volumes were a daunting prospect,” he says. Transmitting it as a blog “seemed obvious,” he says.

And finally, we’re described as one of the ‘50 Best London Websites’ in this week’s issue of Time Out, the London listings magazine:

If blogs had existed in the seventeenth century, Samuel Pepys would have had one – and it probably would have looked a bit like this. It’s a pet project by web consultant Phil Gyford in which Pepys’ diary entries are presented in real time, starting in 2003. It’s an odd approach, but makes the man’s work digestible and rewards daily visits.

5 Comments

Paul Chapin   Link to this

Phil, those are great blurbs. Thanks for posting them for us to see. But I don't understand why the last one considers presenting diary entries daily "an odd approach." Seems the most natural approach to me.

The (unexpected) Spanish Inquisition   Link to this

"If blogs had existed in the seventeenth century, Samuel Pepys would have had one"

No, he sure wouldn't: A blog is - generally - public while his diary was essentially a private, even secret affair (remember, he only told two people about it - and even regretted this).
But then it's just a nice catchphrase, isn't it? ;-)

Bradford   Link to this

Greetings, legions of lurkers! Praise should also be added for the elegant interface, careful choice of fonts and display, wealth of link to sites of interest, and the like---all thanks to Phil.

James D. St. James   Link to this

I'm delighted to see this posting. Pepys' diary is definitely not a blog--too private for that. I agree that posting it one day at a time is absolutely natural. I check it every day. I've read much of the diary in previous years, but find this a delightful way to review it, especially given the many commentaries. Thanks to Phil Gyford for this delight. It's nice to see it recognized for the treasure it is.

Barry P. Reich   Link to this

Paper Cuts is a blog for the editors of the New York Times Book Review. The Pepys' diary site is mentioned in an April 29, 2008, posting as follows:

"We should all be grateful to the Internet for the wide access it offers to literature in the public domain. Shakespeare! Dickens! The Bible! All free, all searchable, all priceless beyond compare.
But not much fun to, you know, read. Despite Kindle, I have yet to meet anyone who would rather tackle an entire book onscreen instead of on paper. Really, the Web is less suited to long-form writing than it is to the short-post blog format: part journalism, part journal.

So this strikes me as brilliant — the purest, most perfect distillation of public-domain literature online. Imagine waking up, pouring your cup of coffee and settling in with your laptop to read what Samuel Pepys did on this date 350 years ago."

Here's the link: http://papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/29/t...

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