I Once Kept a Diary (E.V. Knox)

From the papers of Edmund George Valpy Knox (1881 - 1971), comic writer, poet and satirist who wrote under the pseudonym 'Evoe'. He was editor of Punch 1932-1949, having been a regular contributor in verse and prose for many years.This piece is probably from the 1950s after his editorship. In the archives is a good pic of him, at present unfindable (will upload soon) - for the moment this below. He was married to the daughter of the Winnie the Pooh illustrator E.H.Shepard. Mary Shepard in her turn illustrated Mary Poppins. His daughter from an earlier marriage was the Booker prize winning novelist Penelope Fitzgerald - known in the family as 'Mops' and author of the book below on the gifted Knox family.

This is a very amusing parody of British rural diarists such as Parson Woodforde, Francis Kilvert etc., n.b.- a 'pyghtle' is a small piece of land, a small farm or croft - a word still heard in Suffolk..

I once kept a diary...
but only once. And only for one month. I found it too sad. For some unaccountable reason it took on the semblance of those terrible rustic diaries of a hundred and fifty, or two hundred years ago.

  Jan. 1 - New Year's Day. Overcast and damp morning. A part of the paddock fencing torn down by last night's wind ... For dinner, neck of pork, pease pudding and a boiled Rabbit. Tib, my wife, complained of the ague. Recd. from Jas. Smedley £0 0s 0½d, the Ha'penny being bad. Walked out with my dog Nap to see the fire at Bugge Mill. Flames burning very Fiercely ... The children caught a Colick. Sir Chas. Morton dyed.

  Jan. 2 - West and rainy.

  Jan. 3 - Sleete.

  Jan. 4 - Attended Inquest on Sir Chas. Morton. Heard of the great rioting in Manchester. This growing Worse. Sharp frost in eveg. Took jalep for my Gout.

  Jan. 5 - Hail.

  Jan. 6 - Frost returned, being very Bitter. Sold 7 Bushels of Wheat to A. Ridley, who had no money to paye. 4 persons killed on the Birmingham Railway.

  Jan. 7 - Ate for dinner on ½ chine of Beef, a mincemeat tart and 3 Bath chaps ... Sir Chas. Morton now is said was Poisoned. Dranke 1 gallon gin. Tib, my wife, in bed with influenza.

  Jan. 8 - Thaw began. Very cold.

Jan. 9 - A whale being washed ashore at Whipley, this was cut up and given to the poor. Drove my horse Hob in the cart to see this, and coming back he lamed a forefoot ... Quarrelled with Jno. Martin about the pyghtle... Jas. Donovan Esqr. died.

Jan. 10 - Thundered.
Jan. 11 - Boy killed by Lightning at Friske Hall. 2 sheep were Struck also.
Jan. 12 - Very wet and blusterous. Jno. Martin now found to have killed Sir Chas. Morton by Poison ... gave the Peace officer 1 pint of beer. Had the leech to see my wife Tib, who commended basilic ointment. Mr. Coal fell dead.
Jan. 13 - Very foggy and mizzing day.
Jan. 14 - Wind blew hard, especially in the Eveng. Walked into Mudhampton to see Mr. Jos. Wilson, ill with the cow-pox, and growing worse. Took henbane for my goitre.
Mr. Champneys died.
Jan. 15 - Tib my wife worse, and the children much Frostbitten going to school. Bought 1 caske of Brandy from smugglers at Bluthe. Jno. Martin's brother met me in the Pyghtle and saying I gave False witness about his brother, struck me in the eye ... Rioting in Norfolk. Mr. Bartlett killed by a train.
Jan. 16 - My eye very painful.
Jan. 17 - Rats came into my barn this night and ate all my Corn.
Jan. 18 - Lord Norbury murdered.
Jan. 19 - Jno. Martin to be Hanged. Recd from the Peace Officer for 1 new Rope £0 1s 1½d. For dinner 1 goose, 2 bottles of Port, and a hare. Nose inflamed and sore.... Cooper's child drowned in the big Vat at Foster's Mill. Snowing.
Jan. 20. Snow.
Jan. 21. More snow.
Jan. 22. Snow very deep.
Jan. 23 - A great fall from the drifted snow came into the yard burrying my wife Tib, who was with difficulty removed, but not my dog Nap, which dyed. Dinner a roasted fowl and 2 black Puddings. My wife Tib very cross and said she would go home.
Jan. 24 - Snow.
Jan. 25 - Jno. Martin's brother, being Drunk, fell into the snow and not found. Went to Evegsong.
Jan. 26 - Poulticed my eye.
Jan. 27 - Thaw. My wife Tib wished to go to ---, but the road too Bad. Brewed 1 gallon mead. Will. Godley to hang My. J. Martin. Lost 2 Cowes in the fog.
Jan. 28 - Rainy and wet.
Jan. 29 - Sent Will. Godley a present of Ale.
Jan. 30 - Strong E. Wind set in. A chimney falling struck my wife Tib but not much Hurt. Paid Jas. Smedley £0 0s 1½d to have my horse Hob Shoed, the halfpenny being that I had from him. Fine evg.

Jan. 31. - To -- with my wife Tib to see Mr. J. Martin hanged.

One thought on “I Once Kept a Diary (E.V. Knox)

  1. R.M.Healey

    Very funny parody and very accurate . So good that it might fool the less wary amateur local historian. I particularly like the way he introduces anachronisms, such as the railway…


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