The Concise Pepys Diary with an Introduction by Stuart Sim

By Samuel Pepys

I have two editions of Pepys famous diary; that is to say, I have got two volumes from the Everyman edition, and I’ve got the Concise Pepys Diary. The Everyman isn’t complete, of course, and it wouldn’t be complete even if I had all volumes. The Concise Pepys is a cheap Wordsworth reprint of the original 1825 abridged publication.

  • Author: Samuel Pepys
  • Title: The Concise Pepys Diary with an Introduction by Stuart Sim
  • Pages: 804
  • Published: 1997 (1825)
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions
  • ISBN: 1 85326 478 4

When someone keeps a diary for ten years, the result closely approaches the definition of infoglut, and it’s not a Bad Thing, therefore, to abridge. Boring bits have to go, the interesting bits can stay.

What’s interesting and what’s boring is very dependent upon the eye of the reader, though. The original editor, Baybrooke, was mostly interested in the historical relevance of Pepys. The more homely details of Pepys’ life he values rather less, and the salacious bits he skips altogether, being a C19 man, and not a son of the sixties.

The modern reader will most often deplore those choices; nowadays preferences are most often completely reversed. Sex first, then personal details, and boring politics last. And that was my position, too, when I first encountered the diary, about ten years ago. Then there was a period where I preferred reading about the homely bits, the ordinary life of a gentleman. (Interesting is the way Pepys gets richer and richer. Almost all his income he is able to save. Daily life seems to cost little or nothing; only extravagances like clothes or eating out eat into his budget.)

This time, I consult Pepys for the political bits. How does one achieve high office? Where is the money coming from and going to? What does a king need to do to keep the loyalty of his bureaucrats? Very useful for the work-in-progress.

You can follow Pepys’ unexpurgated life at: in blog form — some domain squatter has grabbed, so don’t go
there. You can also get the whole text from Project Gutenberg.