The Diary of Samuel Pepys has been called a literary work like no other. Unlike other diarists of his time, Pepys had no aspirations for publication. This freed him up to paint a frank, uncensored portrait of life in London at the time of the Restoration. Throughout the work, which spans from 1660 to 1669, Pepys offers his firsthand perspective on the major events during the Restoration, including his own role in helping to bring Charles II back from exile to become king, and his aid in both the Great Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666. This coverage gives The Diary of Samuel Pepys a historic distinction as well as a literary one.
Pepys did his part to make sure that prying eyes could not read his work during his lifetime. He wrote The Diary of Samuel Pepys in a cryptic code, which was his own variation on an existing form of shorthand. Fearing that he was going blind from writing, Pepys stopped recording entries in his diary in 1669 and had his entire diary bound for his personal library, which he left to Magdalene College, Cambridge University—his alma mater. It wasn’t rediscovered until 1819, more than one hundred fifty years later, at which point the Master of the College had a student decipher Pepys’s codes. The first edition was edited by Lord Braybrooke and released in an abridged form in 1825 in two volumes. It has since been revised and enlarged to six volumes, ten volumes, and finally, eleven volumes— the complete diary.
This entry studies the abridged, one-volume Modern Library edition, released in 2001, which is widely available.