If you’re stuck for a new year’s resolution may I be so bold as to point you at Pepys’ Diary where you can set yourself the gentle task of reading a new diary entry from 1665 every day. Yes, it’s my own site but I don’t think I’ve been doing too much self-promotion on this front over the five years the site’s been running.
Yes, five years already! We’re just over half way through the diaries now, but don’t feel you’ve missed out on so much it’s not worth starting. For a start, there’s more than four years still to go and if you stick with us for that long you’ve done better than many. Also, you can catch up on what’s happened so far in the appropriately-named Story So Far section of the site: an overview of Pepys and his time followed by a summary of every month’s events from 1660-1664.
Since the site launched five years ago it’s changed an awful lot, and there have been some fun changes in only the past eighteen months. If you haven’t noticed, here are the highlights:
A new design gave the whole site a bit of a polish and a shuffle, finally making it as smart as it deserved.
I belatedly added the ability to receive daily diary entries by email. Visit this form at FeedBurner to subscribe.
Most of the locations mentioned in the Encyclopedia section of the site (which explains all the people, places and ideas Pepys mentions) now feature Google Maps. For example, here’s where Pepys lives.
525 of the Encyclopedia’s 2,797 topics now include Wikipedia content to help explain the world of the 17th century. For example, here’s a page about Hypocras, a wine-based drink, and here’s one about The Devil is an Asse, a play Pepys saw a while back.
In addition, a few Encyclopedia pages have their own custom articles that are more specific to Pepys and his time than Wikipedia’s can be. These are written by some of the site’s enthusiastic readers and contributors, such as this on the Earl of Sandwich, Pepys’ mentor, by Jeannine Kerwin, and this on 17th century mathematics by Todd Bernhardt. If you want to explain a topic, just let me know.
A slightly older innovation is the In-Depth Articles section of the site, which features pieces that don’t slot neatly into an Encyclopedia topic. Many of these are written by the indefatigable Jeannine Kerwin, including this on the effect of Queen Catherine’s illness on court politics and this review of a recent book about Pepys.
And there’s more to come: I have further handy features to add, time allowing, over coming months.
I owe the site’s readers a Site News post on statistics, but things are healthy for a site about London 343 years ago:
- In the past month: 58,971 visits (31,803 unique), 141,122 pageviews.
- 2,025 subscribers to the RSS feed of diary entries.
- 6,598 annotations posted by users explaining Encyclopedia topics.
- 37,503 annotations posted to daily diary entries (around 10-30 every day).
You’ll be just in time for the war against the Dutch…