Fascinating Diaries of Gertrude Savile

December 27, 2012 at 7:24 pm (a day in the life, books, diaries, people) (, , , , )

I have written elsewhere (see Regency Reads) about the diaries of Gertrude Savile, specifically: my search for a copy of the book Secret Comment edited by Alan Saville. Today, amid the howls of snow and wind I finally sat down with the Gertrude Savile TWITTER page and … read.

While applauding the dissemination of the diaries, I must confess that I dislike reading them backwards (newest tweet to oldest), yet what I have read today – starting with Christmas Day, December 1729 back to September 1729 – her grumbles and concerns and pleadings are truly fascinating!

Some favorite entries:

(Sept 7) At 12 went in a Chair to Mr Farhams the Painter (Nany came to me). Sat 2 hours. Came home near 3. Sat the first time for my Picture. It does not yet promise to be at all like. It is not out of vanity (for I never had less reason) yet I can give no better reason for my doing so silly a thing as having my own Picture Nobody elce thinks it worth it. In short I had a mind, & have gratified my self. Never could have chose a worse time.

(Oct 9) Sent for Mr Wellbroke who came before his time & before we had dind – he dind with us.  A fortnight since I gave my Harpsicord to alter, which is a very indifferent one, tho it cost £40, was much cheated. He undertook to mend the Toutch & Stops & a few other faults – & I gave him 4 Guineys. It came home 2 or 3 days since. To day he came to Tune it again, & be paid – he look’d also at the Organ, which took up most of the Afternoon. Playd of the Organ after he was gone. O Lord William how I gnol ot wonk ruoy traeh [=how I long to know your heart].

{I’ve not quite figured out what has brought about her longing for Lord William – or even who he was. And, yes, she sometimes writes BACKWARDS!}

(Oct 15) I think I may need make no appologies to my self for my many intermitions forgetts &c. in this now tyrsome task I set my self many years ago I did propose some good in it & have often found pleasure At least an imployment for many tedious hours that has hung upon my hands, which spent quick without doing any thing woud have made me mad. Tho I am at presant pretty weary of it – & the writing of my Actions & thoughts is grown as disgreable to me as the performance. Yet I do not design to renounce it, but to take off all restraint (which always disgusts) & the notion of a Task & business that I may have hitherto imposed as indispensably necessary upon my dear self who is grown so weary of it. I think fitt to declare to my dear self – that henceforward I will go on with it without any further apologies in this broken manner. In short I will imploy my time & paper in this work without impeachment of wast. I will write half a sentance if I please, half a thought if I please, or Half a Word. This Indenture Triperite agreed to by all the partys consernd in wittness wherof they have interchangable sat their Hands… I. Me. My Self.

I’ll leave you with the latest tweet:

(Dec 25) Xmas Day. Not Unhappy.

The twitter account can be found @GertrudeSavile.


What made me so *mad* for Miss Saville?? It was watching the episodes of Amanda Vickery’s At Home With the Georgians. I highly recommend the DVD, as well as the segments where Gertrude Savile is portrayed by Hannah Boyde.

The actual diaries are at the Nottinghamshire Archives. Start now, for you’ve only 2,664 tweets to catch up with!


  1. Sabine said,

    Thank you for sharing your find! I loved “At Home with the Georgians” and watched it several times on DVD! What an interesting idea to put Gertrude Savile’s diaries into twitter feeds!
    Miss Savile’s diary entries were so sad “unhappy, miserable…”, just the company of her cat cheered her up a bit…it was such a relief to see that her fate changed in the end.

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      Hi, Sabine — I have a feeling that Vickery didn’t really read the diary (although it was published, in an edited version — which I presume is not the case with the twitter feed… — in the 1980s). It’s easy to get caught up in Gertrude’s “downside”; which I why find the diary so fascinating. She mentions so much about her life, the times and, yes, her unhappiness. But if one can’t pour our black or blue feelings to one’s diary, then where?


  2. Lenora said,

    I found out about gertrude savile from the Amanda Vickery series as well and I was intrigued. I was lucky enough to track down a copy of ‘secret comment’ edited by Alan Saville (not an easy book to find) and I am completely hooked – Gertrude is such a fascinating character. It is such a personal account of a life it feels quite different to many of the other published journals I have read from the period. It really does feel like you are reading someone’s secret diary. And she’s not always miserable!

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      Hi, Lenora – (sorry it took so long for me to get back in & comment).
      How LUCKY to find a copy. I’ve searched (albeit, not very diligently); read a little of “her” twitter feed, etc etc. Just not the same. Wish they’d republish.

      I’m so GLAD to hear you say you find Gertrude Savile “a fascinating character”. Must confess, Vickery’s “tsk, tsk” attitude was QUITE uncalled for. Think about it…. when happy, you’re doing too much to write more than a little; but when unhappy, you WISH for someone to pour your heart out to. For Gertrude, at least at times, that was her diary.

      Your thoughts, on Gertrude, the diary, and the book in general, makes me want to renew my efforts to find a copy (reasonably priced! in case anyone reading this has a copy to offer).

      I’d be interested to know what you think of the twitter – a good way to present her words?

      Thanks for reading, and especially for WRITING.


  3. Oxfam-Bookshop Kingsbridge said,

    Hiya Janeite, we’ve received a copy of this book at our Oxfam Bookshop in Kingsbridge, Devon, where it was published in 1997. Started researching it and discovered how surprisingly rare it now is! I saw everyone’s comments about looking for a copy at a reasonable price, so I thought I’d let you know about ours. As there’s nothing comparable online I can’t really judge a price for it. It was originally published for £15.95 but is now long long out of print and only available in libraries… so I have listed our copy on eBay at auction with a starting price of £9.99. The listing is here: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=252945026807 and Hope this is helpful! And proceeds go to Oxfam too and help change lives so everyone is a winner! :D – Vicky P.S. I will also post this comment on the page you linked above, Regency Reads.

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      Hi, Vicky – Oh my! yes, a hard title to find because it wasn’t published as a book, per se, but as a “Transactions” of the society. I found a copy (online, of course!) and paid around $40. I _thoroughly_ enjoyed reading it! Vickery makes Miss Savile sound like a grump, a frump, and any other negative you can think of. I found her writings quite affecting.

      Excellent book – and great of you to think of readers looking for a copy!


  4. Oxfam-Bookshop Kingsbridge said,

    I’m glad you found a copy, Kelly! That’s useful to know the price you paid, thank you – I couldn’t find another copy anywhere. It’s such a fascinating book, I’m surprised it hasn’t been republished. I hope sometime it will be. In the meantime, I’ll leave ours on eBay and hopefully it will find a happy buyer!


    • Janeite Kelly said,

      Hi, Vicky – I think there have been MANY would wish to see Secret Comment republished or even expanded to offer the diaries in toto. I tried the twitter feed (GREAT idea), but coming in the middle of it it was a LOT of work to start at the beginning (Twitter just isn’t made for that kind of ‘reading’).

      There’s just nothing better than a BOOK!


  5. Catmas said,

    Thank you for sharing. I think William is Lord William Manners.

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      Hi, Catmas – I’ll have to pull out the book –

      Thanks for sharing, and for visiting!


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