Five Fascinating Facts about Samuel Pepys

More than a diarist

Interesting Literature

Curious facts about the diarist Samuel Pepys

1. Samuel Pepys’ celebrated diary was only deciphered in the early nineteenth century, over a century after his death. The diary wasn’t written in code but in a form of shorthand called tachygraphy. It took a reverend several years to decipher the diary – and this wasn’t done until the 1820s. Partly what makes the diary so entertaining is Pepys’s personality: his confession of his own weaknesses, his refreshing frankness. But the diary is also the chronicle of a busy decade in English history. It’s well-known that Pepys (1633-1703) documents the Great Plague, the Great Fire of London, and the Dutch invasion, but it’s often the little day-to-day details that make the diary so interesting. Among other things, Pepys’s diary contains one of the first references to a Punch and Judy show in England, and even the earliest known reference to someone in England…

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