Samuel Pepys was a member of British Parliament, and an administrator for the Royal Navy, who kept a diary from 1660-1669. For the most part, it’s kind of boring — he was clearly a very social and hard working guy who enjoyed the best of life: friends, family, dinners, music, fashion, intellectual pursuits, and being influential (in his own peripheral way) to current affairs. In short, his life was kind of middle-class ordinary. Except that he lived in the middle of London during The Great Fire and Bubonic Plague.
You can read what his life was like, how people lived in the most difficult time in London’s history here. It’s in an interactive format which is an interesting way to publish this book, replete with cool pop up info if you’re not well versed in London history or Old English. https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/
Daniel Defoe was a writer, businessman and a spy. The son of a candle maker, he was born as Daniel Foe — but later added the De to make himself seem more posh than he actually was. He lived a very colourful life: he escaped the gallows (for treason), was imprisoned for libel, was imprisoned for debt, and spent a considerable amount of time in the pillory. He’s best known, however, for writing Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders. One of his lesser known books is A Journal of the Plague Year. Defoe was only a small child in 1665, and it’s believed his book is based largely on his uncle’s diaries and is fairly accurate. It is one of the most revered accounts of life in London during The Great Plague, detailing not only the harrowing hardships, but also the innovations, unlikely social aspects, and community support developments.
*PLEASE NOTE: This book is quite graphic and represents a 17th century experience of the world, which was similar to, but much more brutal than our own — please do not read if you’re feeling anxious or stressed.
e-book here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/376/376-h/376-h.htm
audio book here: https://librivox.org/a-journal-of-the-plague-year-by-daniel-defoe/