My Story - The Great Plague - A London Girl's Diary 1665-1666
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A time of horror has come to London. In one terrible summer, more than 15% of its population will perish. As the bubonic plague ravages London's streets, mercilessly plucking up victims and filling the plague pits with corpses, 13-year-old Alice Paynton records the outbreak in her diary. "It seems that in the past week 700 people have died of the plague. So the plague has well and truly come to London... One of the houses in the next street had a red cross painted on the door. Above the cross someone had chalked Lord Have Mercy Upon Us." Alice's chilling diary brings alive one of the darkest moments in British history: the Great Plague of 1665-1666.
enough but seems a little too fond of his jug of ale. He sprawls against the door, half asleep, clutching the jug to him. I cannot say I like him but he is not disrespectful – yet. By the time Papa returned from work he found himself locked out and nothing would persuade the watchman to let him in. Once in Papa would be unable to go out again. On second thoughts he felt he could be more help outside than in. We decided he should lodge with one of his colleagues if he could find anyone willing
five hours in the line yesterday only to be turned away when they closed. She was tenth in line by that time. Others had spent days trying to obtain their certificates. My heart sank. If I am out of luck today, I vowed, I must rise earlier tomorrow. I told her of my loss and the miracle that I had not taken the disease. She, it seemed, had had the plague and recovered. Her mother, father and sister had all died. Her father’s parrot was all that remained, she said, and she would not be parted
same evening August 18th August 19th Next day Later that night Probably August 21st August 22nd or 23rd The next day The next day Later the same day I am told ’tis August 25th Three hours later August 27th August 29th August 31st September 1st September 2nd September 4th September 6th September 11th September 17th September 19th September 21st September 24th September 27th November 21st December 1st August 5th, 1666 September 2nd Later the same day Late that same day
says it teaches me patience (which I do not care to learn). I also know that (God willing) I shall one day need to teach my own children to read and write. May 26th The tuner came today for the virginals. He said the warm weather does them no good and the smoke from winter fires discolours the keys. And he has increased his price. Papa was not best pleased when he returned from the office. Maggie snapped at me this morning. She has a toothache and used so much oil of cloves that Aunt Nell
ham and a chunk of bread which he gobbled noisily, stuffing it in with his fingers. He said he had had great sport, following the cart. “Which cart is that?” Maggie asked, looking in the larder for some milk. “Why, the dead cart,” he replied. “Every night as soon as ’tis dark it comes round to collect the dead.” I stared at him, my heart in my mouth. Then a shudder ran through me. Had it come to this? Maggie clipped his ear and told him not to tell lies. “But ’tis true,” he insisted.