Secret Voices: A Year of Women’s Diaries

Sarah Gristwood

A captivating collection of daily extracts from women’s diaries, looking back over four centuries to discover how women’s experience – of men and children, sex and shopping, work and the natural world – has changed down the years. And, of course, how it hasn’t.

In this expansive anthology – from 1 January through to 31 December – you’ll find Lady Anne Clifford in the seventeenth century and Loran Hurnscot in the twentieth both stoically recording the demands of an unreasonable husband; Joan Wyndham and Anne Frank, at much the same time, but in wildly different settings, describing their first experiences with sex; and Anne Lister (TV’s Gentleman Jack) in eighteenth-century Yorkshire exploring her love affairs with women alongside Alice Walker in twentieth-century California.

Organised around the calendar year, with several selections for each day, this book is a fascinating record of how women were thinking, feeling and reacting to historical events. From Virginia Woolf relishing her new haircut and Oprah Winfrey meditating on her career to Emilie Davis chronicling the death of Abraham Lincoln and teenage Ma Yan yearning for education in poverty-stricken China, Secret Voices contains a rich mix of well-known diarists and less familiar ones, and often the voices echoing down the centuries sound eerily familiar today.