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date: 23 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines various texts (including chronicles, spiritual autobiographies, financial accounts and annotated almanacs), all of which can be related in some way to the category of the diary. It emphasizes how modern expectations of the diary as a form linked with intimacy, candour, and self-revelation were only fitfully present in the early modern period, and were only gradually emerging across the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: most early modern diaries were texts as much linked with the recording of actions in the world and public events as they were registers of any kind of inner life. As a consequence, the diary reminds us to pause in scepticism at many of the claims for cultural modernity implicit in the period marker ‘early modern’. The analysis begins with the diary of Lady Margaret Hoby (1571–1633) of Hackness, Yorkshire, which raises and then confounds many of the modern expectations of diaries, privacy, and subjectivity, and so illustrates how the diary was not yet the form known today.

Keywords: diary, early modern period, cultural modernity, Lady Margaret Hoby

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