Editing the Diary


Editing the Diary

The diary originally consisted of five volumes of notebooks. The last volume has been lost, and the remaining volumes cover the period from January 1940 to February 1944. It is now in the Department of Documents at the Imperial War Museum in London, and can be seen by arrangement with the Museum. The text which is presented on this site is the version edited by Anthony himself for publication.

This edited version of the diary was made towards the end of Anthony’s life, and was intended to convey, particularly to his family and friends, what he had experienced of this crucial period in the formation of modern Britain, and the part he had played in it – it felt to him like a very passive part, hence his choice of title. As any day-by-day account of an ordinary life must do, Anthony’s included a good deal of repetition, and notes of entirely inconsequential things. A good deal of this has been cut out of the edited text, while leaving enough to give the flavour of life’s ordinary routines, as well as its times of interest and excitement, of which there were many. About half of the original writing is presented in the published version.

diary pages
See page 74 (bottom) in the published diary


The names of Anthony’s friends, people who appear repeatedly, or are otherwise important, are given as in the original diary. Several of his friends are referred to by their initals and nick-names as well. Others of his fellow-pupils at school are identified only by an initial letter.

Presentation of the text

The text presented here is in the original words with some brief explanations in square brackets. Longer notes included by the author in the edited version, which are helpful in understanding the entries, have been put into a separate document with links from the diary pages. (The published text also includes further descriptions by the author of his family background, the circumstances of the war, and reflections on its outcome and effects, which are not included in this online resource.) The drawings which are included here are all from the original diary.

The pagination follows the published version of the diary. On some pages, where an illustration occurs in the published version, there may be only a small amount of printed text. Pages which consist entirely of illustrations have been omitted.

The author’s movements, mostly between home and school, are indicated, when they take place, on the right hand side of the page.