A thought occurred to me recently… I was wondering if anyone was itching to write more about aspects of Pepys or the time he lived in. If so, maybe it would be worth creating a new section of the site for such articles. Every so often a new essay/article could be posted up and readers could, as ever, post comments. Any topic related to the diary or the times would be welcome (individual people, politics, language, fashion, etc.) and they could of course be rather longer than diary annotations. It might be a daft idea, or there might not be enough people interested in writing things — let me know what you think.

(This isn’t intended to be a substitute for any kind of discussion forum, which we’ve discussed at great length already. I may still do something to assist in separating or sorting different kinds of diary annotations, but that’s an issue separate to these essays.)


First Reading

C.H.White  •  Link

Sounds a good 'un to me. There are people who read this site who are far more capable than I, far more knowledgeable too.

I am into re-enacting the period of the Civil War, and am more than a little interested in the period which followed that turbulent time. Following the Commonwealth and the Protectorate came the foundation of our present democracy, such as it is - and I am convinced that there are many who would have much to say.

I might have a try myself.

David Quidnunc  •  Link


Perfectissimo! Splendidissimo! Fantasti-- well, you get the idea. I like it.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Moi aussi, je suis d'accord...

May I nominate/suggest Helena M. , David Q. as lead contributors.

Btw, the quality of some of the annotations has risen considerably in recent weeks.

Pauline  •  Link

Possibility to extend this to Background Info?
As information collects for some of the Background Info topics, it may lend itself to a thoughful compilation into an article-type entry to replace (or precede) the accumulated annotations. Links retained, but pertinent information presented in one read.

This opens up the field to annotators who have the time and desire but may not feel knowledgeable enough to take on an essay.

Eric Walla  •  Link

A section for essays is well considered ...

... even if essays do NOT appear quickly (well-written ones probably would not unless the poster is underemployed elsewhere). This site is after all projected as a ten year project. And as Pauline comments about Background articles, the field of play for such essays is tremendously broad. All of life itself, as we might also say of the Diary.

I have the feeling, Phil, that you'll come back to us after some undetermined period of time and suggest the need to sort the essays by subject (not to mention Puritanical vs Cavalier).

One question I might ask before we all go scurrying off to sharpen our pencils--should we let it be known when we plan to write on a particular subject? It would be depressing to find oneself a revision away from a final product on coinage, say, only to find that languagehat has beat us to the punch.

Keith Wright  •  Link

I second Eric's idea of some sort of sign-up sheet, to declare one's intentions toward a topic---or to announce a retreat if it proves overwhelming. It would give the ambitious a chance to pull together their scattered thoughts on, say, pubs, or syntax, or the court, or the courts, or patronage-bribery, or the definition of a gentleman. Some latitude, without condign punishment, might have to be allowed for introducing spoilers, if reportage is to be unfettered.

Hhomeboy  •  Link


"... Some latitude, without condign punishment, might have to be allowed for introducing spoilers, if reportage is to be unfettered."

Translation S.V.P.

Topsy  •  Link

Would it be possible to add some kind of timeline for key episodes in Pepys' life? I try to read every day but was busy at work, then on vacation, and came back to find Pepys at sea without the foggiest notion as to how he got there or what he's doing!

Phil  •  Link

Re: a sign up sheet.

If such a section is created then I'll try and incorporate a sign up sheet. In the mean time, please email me at phil@gyford.com if there is something you'd like to write about. Then I can judge if there's enough people to make it worthwhile (I'm sure we'd all like to read such essays, but having enough people to write them is not a foregone conclusion!).

David Quidnunc  •  Link

sign-up sheet ideas, other ideas

(1) I guess this is obvious but here goes: The best sign-up sheet, if/when this is set up, is the simplest. A simple page where we can post announcements of intent would work best.

(2) Perhaps it should be mandatory that we announce some date for when we intend to post the essay. Writers should be warned that they should give themselves a good amount of leeway in giving an estimated time of arrival, and there should be no problem with putting up another note announcing an extension because of lack of time or because the project turned out to be harder than we originally thought.

(3) Perhaps it should be mandatory that we will send in an essay within one month of posting an announcement. That would be a good way of clearing the announcements page, too -- after one month, expect the announcement to be erased, or at least inoperative. Of course, I see nothing wrong with announcing an extension of another month at the end of that first month. After that, the subject should be freed up for someone else, and you're on your own if you want to work on the essay further.

(4)It should be mandatory that those who post an announcement of intention should be sure to have a proper email address on their note. Doing so allows others to question them on whether, for instance, the topic they intend to write about would cover some subject that someone else is thinking of writing about. If these questions aren't cleared up by email, they'll be cluttering up the announcements page. (It also allows others to send the writer information or suggestions.)

(5) I can think of essays I would want to write that would be rather short -- perhaps only seven paragraphs, or even five. I assume nobody would have a problem with this.

Phil  •  Link

I don't think we should start with too many rules about obligatory deadlines and such. They may be required if things get out of hand, but best to keep things simple to start with (especially as this kind of thing is hard to enforce). I don't think there would be a problem with short essays, as they'd also be a good starting point for discussions.

By the way, I'm also open to having someone else act as editor for the essay section and leave it up to them to solicit, proof read, organise and post essays, if anyone fancies the task! It wouldn't require technical knowledge. Contact me if so.

David Quidnunc  •  Link


Every decision an editor makes can be criticized and resented by the essay writer -- and most likely will be. And the more enthiusiastic the writer is, the more the editing will hurt. What's the point in embittering people who are otherwise enthusastic about contributing to the site?

I'm content to read unedited essays, just as we read unedited annotations. In fact, it will be easier to avoid bad essays than it is to avoid poorly written, wrongheaded or offensive annotations.

Contributors can always ask others for advice before posting an essay -- but give authority to an editor and fights are inevitable. The rules that I suggest above are another attempt at avoiding friction.

Phil  •  Link

I meant "editor" in the sense of a person who runs a magazine/ website/ journal, rather than setting any policy in place already!

Pauline  •  Link

The honorable profession of editing
If anyone is contemplating an essay and held back by worries over clean copy, I would very happily copy edit for them offsite.

I will not, however, be available for the month of May.

My clients retain their enthusiasm and are free to accept or reject my edits. No charge for editing for pepysdiary.

language hat  •  Link

I like it too.
(Don't worry, Eric, I won't tackle coinage!)

I join Pauline in offering my editing services gratis if anyone is worried about spelling, grammar, &c.

Hhomeboy: The meaning is that essayists should have the freedom to refer to future events without the punishment that would be deserved (=condign) if they did so in annotations. I agree, especially since the essays will not be tied to any particular day and thus it would be silly to avoid "spoilers" that will be ancient history in a few years. But it might be polite to add something like [POST-1661 SPOILER] in certain cases to warn off those who want to keep their innocence; I presume these could be edited out later.

Emilio  •  Link

A 'condign' translation
Note that condign literally does mean "deserved" or "appropriate," but since it originated in Tudor times the phrase "condign punishment" has most commonly been used for the death penalty or other extreme punishment. Another translation would thus be "Don't kill the writer for any spoilers!"

David Bell  •  Link

Essays and Research

The other side of the coin is the question of research. Anyone writing an essay shouldn't need to ask a lot of questions here, but having some way of allowing questions to be asked, which might lead to essays, could be useful.

It could also explode into a mass of unreadable verbiage.

Peter  •  Link

Great idea, I will certainly read esseys/articles. Don't know enough to write anything. May I suggest that if an essay touches on information in the background section that a link be put in so that someone checking background on fashion would be informed that someone else had done an article on it. Keep up the good work all you smart people.

Phil  •  Link

As I've only had one person email me suggesting essays they'd like to write, I wouldn't hold your breath for such a section appearing any time soon!

chip  •  Link

Don't despair there are many years ahead. Perhaps rather than essays, on-line forums on related topics. For example, a reformation page, a restoration page, a civil war page, etc. The beauty of these notes is their simplicity. Some of us seem to like minutiae and others the grand view. Perhaps tailoring pages to diverse interests is an idea worth exploring.

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