Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (2002): Claire Tomalin


On 1 January 1660, a young clerk in the Exchequer in London began to keep a diary. He wasn’t the first diarist in history, far from it; but he was the first to find such potential in the form, and to make of his diary more than a dry chronicle of the times, or a self-examination of sins. This diary was different. From its very first page it showed an almost shocking candour as the young clerk recorded not only his work and social life, but also the most frank and intimate details about his marriage and his own turbulent sexual desires. This honesty sat alongside a lively intelligence which drank in all the events of the world around him. This clerk was Samuel Pepys and, from a historical point of view, he couldn’t have chosen a better moment to start such a detailed account of his life.

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