A diary written in the early 1800s – a fascinating piece of social history – which lay undiscovered in a drawer for decades, has been published.
Joan Wright, from Belford, and Ian Hall, from Alnwick, who runs Wanney Books, have teamed up to publish Eleanor’s Diary.
It provides an insight into the life of Eleanor Weatherly, a gentlemen farmer’s daughter from Belford, in 1804 and 1805.
A copy of the diary first came to light in 2004, 200 years after it was written, after lying untouched in a drawer for decades. Joan was engrossed from the moment she started reading it. “If you think that life then was dull out in the sticks, then think again,” she said, adding that Eleanor had a busy social life.
She says Eleanor’s “pithy observations and wry sense of humour” meant there were hints of Jane Austen in the writing.
Joan decided to research the history of the family and managed to track down the diary itself, not only for 1804 which she had already read, but also for 1805.
“I realised I had come across a rare piece of social history about this area 200 years ago,” she said.
Joan started doing talks at history societies before deciding that the only way to really do the diary justice was to publish it.
Ian set up his own imprint after appealing for writers keen to get their ideas – for books on Northumberland’s history, culture and landscape – into print.
The pair have been working together ever since and the result is a book which features the unedited diary alongside other information on the family, their life and times.
A launch event is taking place today at the Bell View Resource Centre in Belford, from 6pm to 8pm.