I was very honoured last month to be awarded an Order of Australia Medal for Services to Literature. I share this award with all of you who attend my talks, come on my tours, and read this newsletter. It was such a thrill to receive it. And on top of that I was also last month made a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW. This is primarily a scientific body, but they are extending into the arts and I was lucky enough to be chosen as a Fellow.
What particularly delights me is that one of my great literary favourites, Samuel Pepys, was a member and President of the Royal Society in the UK. My first talk to the Royal Society in NSW will be about Pepys and his achievements. Have you read Claire Tomalin’s superb biography of Pepys, Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self, or the book about the time he spent in prison, accused of being involved in a Popish plot: The Plot Against Pepys by James Long and Ben Long? Pepys’ diary is one of the great delights of literature. You can buy an audio version of extracts from the diary, read by Kenneth Branagh. You can read an abridged version of the diary, edited by Robert Latham, but better still is to read the whole wonderful journal.
Pepys was an incredibly able man – founder of the modern English navy, administrator, President of the Royal Society, MP, Secretary to the Admiralty, Governor of Christ’s Hospital, and of course the greatest diarist ever! He wrote without any view to publication, so his diary is wonderfully honest – a warts and all picture of an imperfect man, with an extraordinary gift for words. I am beyond excited to be following in his footsteps and look forward to presenting a lecture on ‘Pepys, his Library and the Enlightenment’, to the Royal Society.
The thrill of these awards has been tremendous – I am feeling, like Mrs Bennet, that any more excitements will be too much for my nerves. Share your comments below.
Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self by Claire Tomalin
The Plot Against Pepys by James Long and Ben Long
The Diary of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys
The Shorter Pepys by Samuel Pepys, Robert Latham (edited by)
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