6th November 2019
A diary penned by a girl almost 140 years ago has been turned into a book which will raise funds to help modern-day women and girls in Essex.
The diary, written by Daisy Dobell, covering 12 years from 1888 to 1900, was discovered by her grandson, George Courtauld (pictured) in a rarely-used desk at his home in Colne Engaine, near Halstead. He decided it was too good to remain hidden away in a drawer and that it should be published.
The book, called “Daisy’s Diary,” edited by George, is now on sale. Some of the proceeds will go towards the EWAG Charitable Fund which is managed by the independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF) and support charities and voluntary organisations promoting self-esteem and wellbeing for women and girls.
Another book produced by George, a former High Sheriff of Essex and a vice-president of ECF, called “The Rambles of a Fat Bulldog,” is a follow-up of his three “Fat Bulldog Travel” books written when he was a Queen’s Messenger, will also raise funds for the same cause.
George, whose family is well known for philanthropy across many generations, discovered Daisy’s diaries when, after reaching his 80th birthday, and having spent most of his life “collecting things”, he decided that sorting through items at home should be a priority.
He said: “When rummaging through an old and rarely used desk I found, at the back of the bottom drawer, three volumes of diaries headed Daisy Dobell, 1888 - 1900, Whittington Court, Cheltenham. Daisy was my grandmother. I opened one of the volumes and was immediately enchanted, amused and astonished. I read through all 64,000 words in one sitting.
“The diary reveals Daisy’s personality as delightful, charming and naive, but also shrewd and funny, sometimes not intentionally.
“It is the record of a girl developing from a child to a woman. It traces the increasing momentum of her life from the slow, almost dreamlike days of early childhood through the burgeoning awareness of an adolescent, to the burst of activity as she becomes a woman and finally a wife.
“Daisy was the daughter of a brewer who owned several public houses in Gloucestershire and started her diary when she was 12 years old.
“Her family was considered rather bohemian and, although well brought up, Daisy can be surprisingly passionate, unlike the conventional image of the Victorian maiden.
“Her diary was too good to moulder unseen at the back of a drawer and I decided to publish her memoirs and introduce her to other people who may love and laugh with her over 139 years later.”
George’s other recently published book, “The Rambles of a Fat Bulldog,” recounts his adventures over the past two decades, including his time as High Sheriff of Essex.
It is a welcome sequel to his original Fat Bulldog Travel books, written when he was a Queen’s Messenger, which involved travelling all over the world delivering items on behalf of the Queen to various British embassies.
Daisy’s Diary and The Rambles of a Fat Bulldog are both available from Amazon, the EWAG website and some local bookshops priced £10 and £12 respectively. Proceeds from the sale of both books will boost the EWAG Charitable Fund, established with ECF in 2010 by the Essex Women’s Advisory Group to combat negative stereotypes and promote self-esteem in women and girls.
EWAG has raised in excess of £100,000 and grants have been made to various charities in Essex including CARA (Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse) to provide counselling for women and girls affected by sexual violence; Open Road, to support women on probation from prison across Essex to re-enter society and rebuild their lives; Tendring Mental Health Support, to run women only groups for those with mental health problems; and Safer Places providing refuge and outreach support to women and their children who have experienced domestic violence.
EWAG has also supported the educational STEM project aiming to get girls and women into science and engineering. In addition, the Fund gives regular support to Girlguiding UK Essex and the Prince’s Trust for Development Awards for girls in Essex.
ECF manages several charitable funds set up by members of the Courtauld family including:
To order George’s books visit www.essexwomensadvisorygroup.com/books
To find out more about Essex Community Foundation and information on how apply for grants call us on 01245 356018.