A writer’s diary is a magical thing. It’s the place literary legends work out sloppy first drafts, explore their deepest anxieties, and gossip about the people in their lives that they later turn into characters. These five diaries offer a glimpse into the minds of our favorite authors.
1. A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf
A Writer’s Diary, collected by her husband from the personal records she kept over twenty-seven years, includes diary entries about her own writing, the people and scenes she saw that influenced her work, and writing exercises. If you want to get deeper into the author’s personal life, Woolf’s complete diaries are also available, starting with Volume 1: 1915-1919, and spanning five volumes until her death in 1941.
2. Diaries, 1910 to 1923 by Franz Kafka
Like Woolf’s diaries, Kafka’s diaries are hardly an upbeat read. These diaries cover 1910 to the year before Kafka’s death at age forty. Kafka explores his guilt, his feelings of being an outcast, his dreams, and his unbearable life in Prague.
3. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath
An abridged version of Plath’s journals, heavily edited by her former husband Ted Hughes, was published in 1998. For the full story of the poet’s struggle with mental illness and writing in a male dominated literary scene, turn to The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.
4. Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963 by Susan Sontag
Reborn is the first volume of Susan Sontag’s journals and notebooks. Beginning when Sontag is fourteen, and concluding at age thirty, this volume explores Sontag’s growth into a published writer living in New York.
5. The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934 by Anais Nin
This is the first of four volumes of diaries by the prolific erotic and literary writer Anais Nin. The volume begins as Nin is about to publish her first book, and ends when she leaves Paris for New York. You can also buy a complete box set of all four volumes.
Which writers’ diaries did you enjoy? Let us know in the comments!
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