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Reading unpublished diaries

2014 January 5
Holman diary

One of the tiny wartime diaries of Laurance Holman

I am pleased to have been invited by the new student society at Ruskin College, Ruskin History Society, to speak  about some of my current research on Thursday January 23 at 5 in the new college building in Headington. I have called it: ‘Laurance, Mariana and Hilda: an exploration of reading archived diaries from 1937 – 50 of London advertising business man , Laurance Holman, (and his horse Mariana).’

I have previously written on the website about the unpublished diaries of Laurance Holman I  found in Camden archives in London. They include specific details of food prices, leisure activities, overdraft and contracts and daily rides on his horse Mariana either in Hyde or Regent’s Park or through the streets to view bomb damage. No other details initially existed of the man. Thus the diary became both a key source for ‘factual’ details of the man’s life and of his reflections on his own daily experience.

All historians are necessarily selective in choosing particular topics or approaches. However, a sense of closeness between researcher and subject can be facilitated not only by perceived common circumstances such as age or geographical location, but also by the shared genre of the diary form. His diary writing performed apparently similar functions to my own diary recordings in the recent past. I spoke about this topic at last year’s unofficial histories conference in Manchester. However, since then my research has continued. It has included valuable insights from a former colleague of Laurance … This presentation explores the way in which personal experience can initiate different insights into the processes of history – making.

All are welcome to attend.


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