Beyond Words: 200 Years of Illustrated Diaries

Overview

In the age before cameras, the skill of illustration—like that of piano playing, good penmanship, and journaling—was frequently the mark of an educated person. Whereas the written word alone can adequately record the details of one's life, enhancing that with illustration adds yet another texture to the story, resulting in works that both intrigue the mind and delight the eye. Beyond Words is a collection of excerpts from fifty illustrated diaries spanning two hundred years of adventure and contemplation. From ...

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Overview

In the age before cameras, the skill of illustration—like that of piano playing, good penmanship, and journaling—was frequently the mark of an educated person. Whereas the written word alone can adequately record the details of one's life, enhancing that with illustration adds yet another texture to the story, resulting in works that both intrigue the mind and delight the eye. Beyond Words is a collection of excerpts from fifty illustrated diaries spanning two hundred years of adventure and contemplation. From the records of eighteenth-century Spanish explorer Pedro Font to those of a young David Brower first encountering the wilderness, these unfolding stories reveal as much about the times in which they were written as they do the diarists' particular inner worlds. Whether filled with chicken-scratch sketches or gilded illuminations, these diaries have become objets d'art that expand our understanding of the uniquely compelling experiences of their creators—from anonymous writers to luminaries like LeConte and Muir, and from Beat poets to twelve-year-old girls. Beyond Words is a fascinating and intimate collection that will inspire you to pull out pen and paper to capture the fleeting images and experiences of your own life. Published in conjunction with the Bancroft Library. Learn more about author Susan Snyder and diarist Isaac W. Baker on PBS' "History Detectives."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597141642
  • Publisher: Heyday Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/2011
  • Pages: 152
  • Product dimensions: 9.36 (w) x 11.84 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

An inveterate diarist and boon companion to Dear Dog Endymion, Susan Snyder worked as a teacher, illustrator, and Japanese language interpreter before becoming head of public service at The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has spent twenty years exploring the library's stacks, attics, and moats.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 20, 2011

    the uniqueness, charm, and historical value of illustrated diaries

    As collectors in varied fields such as Americana, folk art, regional studies, genealogy, and social history know, illustrated diaries are highly desirable both as prime sources of material and as appealing items in their own right. In many cases, illustrated diaries, like many period diaries, supplement historical documents and artifacts and official records; and in some cases, diaries hold historical or biographical information not found elsewhere or clues opening up intriguing pathways for historians, genealogists, and scholars to pursue.

    In this collection of diverse illustrated diaries from the U. of California-Berkeley Bancroft Library, the focus is on the immediate impression of uniqueness and authenticity of an illustrated diary, leaving the broader matters of relvance to history mostly in the background. The first impression of most illustrated diaries--as emphasized in this book with its photos of covers and interior juxtapositions of handwritten text and illustrations, sometimes photographs--is that of a unique piece of folk art or amateur art, including the art of writing. As with most diaries, the writing not meant for publication or sharing is guileless and often charming. Illustrations are somewhat rough and plain; though they often show considerable skill, and are fetching for their folk-art quality and unexpectedness. One enjoys going though an illustrated diary as much as the diarist did in keeping it.

    Among the 50 diaries, one comes upon ones from the mid 1800s through the 1980s by sailors, outdoorsmen, travelers, a Japanese woman interned in WWII, Western settlers, a boy in his early teens, a wife keeping a diary as an account of the lives of herself and her family, and artists. Most of the diarists are unknown--which is a major reason for the delight of such diaries arising from their unanticipated content and illustrations. Although there are diaries by Mark Twain, John Muir, and Lawrence Ferlingetti showing how even well-known individuals in different fields keep diaries for enjoyments and uses they find in this. Each of the diaries receives the same treatment of picture of the diarist when this is known, biographical points relating to the context or the subject matter of the respective diary, picture of a page spread of the actual diary with handwriting and one or more illustrations.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2011

    An exceptional collection!

    This book is beautifully printed and reveals a wonderful history of diarists. It made me realize how helpful it can be to chart our thoughts, feelings, drawings.... and made me want to start keeping a diary myself!

    The book is Hardcover, by the way...

    I'm really glad I got it!

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