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Diarists and diaries

13 May 2020

Abstract

‘But one shower of rain all this month.’ - entered John Evelyn in his diary on 29th April 1681. What would you write about April 2020 in your diary?

John Evelyn (1620–1706) is one of the best-known English diarists. He is known as a diarist but he was also a scholar, a botanist, a landscape gardener, author and one of the founding members of ‘The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge' (est. 1660).

Unbeknown to him, Evelyn was also a chronicler of climatic change. His weather notes provide us with data on the period dubbed as the Little Ice Age in Europe. In his diary he noted numerous extreme weather events. The first reference in 1636: ‘This year being extremely dry’, continued later with extreme cold winters when the Thames froze over for weeks, extreme heat, and extreme wind including hurricanes, and unseasonal weather at various times of the year.

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