Last night I was relaxing with one of my favourite podcasts, Backlisted (thank you for the recommendation Jacqui). The discussion was about Angus Wilson’s first novel Hemlock and After, which I read many years ago. But before they even got to the discussion of the novel I was alerted to the voice of a very confident young(ish) man introduced as Dickon Edwards who has been described by the Centre for Life Writing Research at Kings College London as the author of the longest running on-line diary.
Not the longest diary ever. That achievement must be awarded to an American, Reverend Robert W Shields. According to the NY Times, he was ‘a teacher and a preacher who spent four hours a day recording his life in five-minute segments – from changing light bulbs to pondering God to visiting the bathroom – and ended up with a 37.5-million-word diary…’
Rev Shields died in 2007 with, one imagines, the consciousness of work well done.
Dickon Edward’s brother was a guitarist in Adam Ant’s band and Dickon founded the bands Orlando and Fosca and played guitar in the band Spearmint. I was keen to read about recent events as recorded in his online diary. But…the last entry appears to be dated October 2020, and when I checked back, that particular edition of Backlisted was made in February 2019. So, as ever, I am somewhat behind events.
Further investigation shows that the last entry posted online from Edward’s Diary at the Centre of the Earth is dated October 2020; like many others he seems to have deserted the blogosphere for the realms of Twitter and Instagram. But it was reassuring to read the following
Thursday 11 June 2020. A day of relief. I have my PhD funding extended, to allow for the obstacles created by the pandemic. I’ll now remain a full time PhD student until October 2021. By that point I’ll be fifty and (I hope) finishing the thesis. What then? No plans, but then no one knows what the world will be like in late 2021 anyway. The grant is still only £17k a year to live on, but it’s work I enjoy. And it certainly could be worse.
Not bad for one who Backlisted describes as ‘writer, dandy, and erstwhile musician’, (and who really dislikes Jane Austen.)
His name appears in Travis Elborough’s top 10 Literary diarists in the company of more famous writers, among whom we find; Samuel Pepys, Alan Bennett, James Boswell and Virginia Woolf.
To find out who else rates in the world of diaries, read A London Year: 365 Days of City Life in Diaries, Journals and Letters compiled by Travis Elborough and Nick Rennison.
To find out what can happen to your diaries if they are not considered of interest go to our blog entry for 2/5/2017 and read our review of Alexander Masters’ Book A Life Discarded about 148 diaries found in a skip.
To read my diaries, you may have to wait several years.
To read our review of Angus Wilson’s Hemlock and After you will have to wait a few weeks.
Or you could just listen to the Backlisted podcast.
And If you find out what Dickon Edwards is up to these days, please let us know.