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Cecil Beaton's first journal, 1922


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Sir Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) was a famous photographer and designer of scenery and costumes. He went to St John's College, Cambridge, in 1922-5, but never graduated He started this diary on his very first day in Cambridge. He wrote journals all his life, which he selectively published.

The text reads:

It was a dull cold day, but the stretches of dull blue and slate green – & the grey feathering trees were lovely and the grey and white sky – It was all so calm and cool – I wanted in future to see everything as it really is, & to have a little more grit. The man who sat in front of me had large fat lips and a huge nose – he was ugly – but he looked as if he had grit – and for some reason that was what I wanted. I felt that if there was another war I couldn’t possibly go in the trenches and fight like the others had done. I felt I wanted to do something that other people do more – ride bikes – and fight. I despise people who do these things often but I just wanted to be able to do them.

As I sat in the train, with my gloves on, I thought of what I’d be like after Cambridge & if I’d be there long – and if my diary would be interesting - and somehow I wished that I had had my photo taken on my 1st day of Cambridge. It might be interesting later – but at the moment I felt terribly tired of myself – I seem always so terribly the same – doing such stupidly petty things – maths – telephoning – writing letters – having meals and going to the theatre. And I was tired of my appearance – always looking so much the same – same hands – and thin figure and face – with not much expression in it! In the train I did want courage. My cold was very bad, and I sniffed a horrid lot.

I drove here in a taxi wondering if my rooms would be miles from everywhere + if they’d be even a little worse than I expected. The luggage was brought up and I was reminded [?] tips tips tips – and then no more change. I was shown my room - by a nice – cheerful – sensible man, who I liked - I didn’t quite see much of the rooms from excitement – an old man came grumbling up the stairs - & the landlord gave gim a shilling from me. Very kind. The rooms turned out to be charming – very old + sloping ceilings + white walls and black beams. I could make them charming – I was pleased – the housekeeper & the maid seemed “all right” – I was no longer depressed.

12th Aug 2010

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