There are many people who have become famous through writing in a diary or journal. Whether it was before or after their death, a journal tells the story of your life in the most personal way. Here is a short list of well-known diarists that might have been totally ignored if it weren't for their diary.
Anne Frank wrote in her diary, she named "Kitty", while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands. The family was apprehended in 1944 and Frank ultimately died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. After the war, the diary was retrieved by Anne's father, Otto Frank.
It received widespread critical and popular attention on the appearance of its English language translation "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl" by Doubleday & Company. The book is now considered one of the key texts of the twentieth century. More than 25 million copies of the book have been sold and it has been translated into more than 50 languages.
Legendary Nirvana front-man, Kurt Cobain, kept a journal from 1980 until his suicide in 1994. These in depth accounts of his life expose Kurt as a real person. A kid from high-school; a cousin and neighbor; a bright and sensitive but morbid rocker. Accredited with the invention of grunge, he was a musical genius and remains an icon of the 1990s rock scene.
Sylvia Plath, widely renowned American poet, novelist, and short story writer, kept a journal from age 11 up until her suicide 20 years later. She explores her deepest thoughts about life and also her daily activities as a person, daughter, and mother. The book, The Journals of Sylvia Plath, were first published in 1980, which contain her diary entries starting from her freshman year at Smith College in 1950. Even though her journal is a window into her life, no other major contemporary American writer has inspired such intense curiosity about her life as Sylvia Plath.
Christopher Johnson McCandless (12 February 1968 — 18 August 1992) was an American wanderer who hiked into the Alaskan wilderness with little food and little equipment, hoping to live a period of solitude. For years, McCandless dreamed of an "Alaskan Odyssey" where he would live off the land, far away from civilization, and keep a journal describing his physical and spiritual progress as he faced the forces of nature. His journal contains entries, covering a total of 189 days, range from ecstatic to grim with McCandless' changing fortunes. Less than five months later he died of starvation near Denali National Park. In 1996, Jon Krakauer wrote a book about his life, Into the Wild, which inspired an Academy Award Nominated film of the same name.
See our extended list of diarists here.
Don't know where or how to start?
Having trouble writing? Visit our
Getting Started guide to get some
tips on journal writing.