Swansea University - Diaries

Digital Diaries

Historical Diaries Online

The Diaries and Letters of Amy Dillwyn

Amy Dillwyn (1845-1935) was an early woman industrialist, a suffragist and a novelist.  Seven volumes of diaries, three travel journals and over 60 letters provide an insight into the life and development of this extraordinary woman. 

The diaries and letters of Amy Dillwyn have been transcribed by Richard Morris.  Dr Kirsti Bohata is working on an open access digital edition.  This work has been undertaken by kind permission of the copyright owner and biographer of Amy Dillwyn, Dr David Painting.


Swansea University, Digital and Archive Collections:

In addition to Kirsti Bohata's edition of the Diaries and Letters of Amy Dillwyn, Swansea University is publishing online the transcriptions of related diaries held at Swansea and the National Library of Wales.

William Dillwyn (1743–1824)

A quaker and anti-slavery campaigner.  A founder member, with Thomas Clarkson and Granville Sharp of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.  Richard Morris has currently transcribed for online publication the 13 volumes of William Dillwyn's dairies.  The originals are held at the National Library of Wales (GB 0210 WILWYN).  We are grateful to the National Library for the temporary loan of the journals to allow transcription. The transcriptions are available here.

Lewis Weston Dillwyn (1778-1855)

Eminent botanist, Fellow of the Royal Society and Founder Member of the Royal Institute of South Wales.  He was owner of the Cambrian Pottery, and, later, MP for Glamorganshire.  The diaries in  have been transcribed by Richard Morris and are are available online as PDFs.  The original Lewis Weston Dillwyn diaries are held, courtesy of R & S Morris, at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.  The transcriptions are available here.

Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn (1814-1892)

The Liberal MP for Swansea campaigned for Disestablishment and, in the final years of his career, helped to establish the first Welsh Parliamenteary Party of the Liberals and became a supporter of the Cymru Fydd home rule movement.  He died whilst campaigning during the election of 1892.  Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn's diaries have been transcribed by Richard Morris and are available online as PDFs. The original diaries are held, courtesy of R & S Morris, at the Richard Burton Archives, Swansea University.


Longer-term digital diary projects: the Century Diaries

The diaries of Amy Dillwyn bring to life the mid Victorian period, but taken together with those of her Neath neighbour Winifred Coombe Tennant (1874-1956) we have almost a century of Welsh women's history.  Coombe Tennant was a suffragist, who stood for parliament and became the first female British delegate at the League of Nations. She was an intimate of Lloyd George, the lover of Gerald Balfour, and a spiritual medium.  Peter Lord is responsible for the diaries of Winifred Coombe Tennant.

Taken together, the writings of Amy Dillwyn and Winifred Coombe Tennant span nearly a century (1863-1955) and extend to nearly two million words. These interconnecting diaries may be read both as autobiographical literature, fascinating to a broad audience, and as a remarkable source to refresh academic historical analysis, which will broaden and enrich our understanding of the period through which they lived.

This is an ambitious project - together the Dillwyn and Coombe Tennant diaries amount to more than 2 million words - and progress is being made in phased stages.  The bulk of both sets of diaries have been transcribed.  The British Academy awarded a Small Research Grant to allow further archival research on the literary career of Amy Dillwyn and to develop a model of the digital resources necessary.  Watch this space.

Related Publications

Peter Lord (ed) Between Two Worlds. The Diary of Winifred Coombe Tennant 1909-1924 (National Library of Wales, 2011).

A detailed synopsis of a conference paper on the challenges of digital scholarly editions was delivered in  July 2010: George Buchanan and Kirsti Bohata, 'Digital Libraries of Scholarly Editions', Digital Humanities 2010, Kings College London.  [Abstract available in Digital Humanities 2010: Conference Abstracts (ISBN 978-0-9565793-0-0), or at the conference website.]