For the entirety of the 1660s, English naval administrator Samuel Pepys kept a daily diary. In it, he documented everything great and small: the coronation of Charles II, the relative quality of his meals, the Fire of London, his quarrelsome relationship with his wife Elizabeth, the Great Plague, his thoughts on the latest plays, his various affairs and perversions, the state of the English navy, and his bunions and bladder problems. Its juxtapositions are stark, its language frank. In a way, it prefigures the discourse found in today’s social media. The diary is one of the most fascinating documents of late 17th-century England, and has been a wellspring of material for historians since its first publication in 1825. In 2003, the diary was posted online at pepysdiary.com, and a vibrant community emerged to annotate, explicate, contextualize, snark about, and otherwise create marginalia around it.
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