Passages from the Diary of Samuel Pepys

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What to expect

“The diary which Samuel Pepys kept from January 1660 to May 1669…is one of our greatest historical records and…a major work of English literature,” writes the renowned historian Paul Johnson.

A witness to the coronation of Charles II, the Great Plague of 1665, and the Great Fire of 1666, Pepys chronicled the events of his day. His diary provides an astonishingly frank and diverting account of political intrigues, naval, church, and cultural affairs, as well as a quotidian journal of daily life in London during the Restoration. Pepys’ vivid, unconscious style, originally written in a cryptic shorthand, reveals an ideal witness: honest, unpretentious, and true.

Critics Review

  • “The bald truth about oneself, what we are all too timid to admit when we are not too dull to see it, that was what Pepys saw clearly and set down unsparingly.”

    Robert Louis Stevenson
  • “Pepys led a full, varied and voraciously-enjoyed life and clearly took pleasure in setting it all down in plain words. Unlike most frantically busy men, he had remarkable powers of observation.”

    Paul Johnson
  • “We can scarcely say that we wish it a page shorter…It is very entertaining thus to be transported into the very heart of a time so long gone by and to be admitted into the domestic intimacy, as well as the public councils, of a man of great activity and circulation in the reign of Charles II.”

    Edinburgh Review
  • “Alexander conquered the world; but Pepys, with a keener, more selfish understanding of life, conquered a world for every sense.”

    Charles Whibley

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