Remembering Elisabeth, Pepys’s Wife – Reading the 1663 Pepys Diaries

Wendy Pratt

I have somehow fallen into a January ritual of reading one year of Samuel Pepys’s diaries as my first book of the year, every year. I’ve done so since 2020, starting with 1660. I’m currently up to mid September of this year’s diary, 1663. The diaries are a fascinating glimpse of the every day life of someone who is a fairly ordinary person working their way up in an administrative job. There’s a lot about the navy and the admiralty in the diaries, a lot of interesting stuff about Charles II and the way the court and parliament worked. But for me the really interesting bits are always the human encounters. There seems to be a lot of trouble with turds in Pepys’s world; lots of basements flooded with crap. Sanitation is still a bit random in London in the 1660s. Each year he is intent on bettering himself; always…

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