In 1782, John Ramsay undertook a journey to Italy with his father Allan, King George III’s Painter in Ordinary. Their tour lasted two years and for the entire duration of their stay, John Ramsay kept a diary in which he recorded his busy social life and shared his experience of practices of sociability in Italian cities.
The Diary of Joseph Farington offers a rich source for thinking about sociability in the art world in London from 1793-1821. Nonetheless, it is striking that, while the Diary records a great deal of information – indeed ‘gossip’ - it seems as if this is of a rather distinctive character and suggests that a different sociability existed between men than among women.
Many Romantic poets and thinkers kept notebooks to jot down miscellaneous entries ranging from minute observations of natural objects, fragments of lectures or poems to records of dreams and nightmares, or metaphysical reflections.
William Godwin kept a detailed diary from the late 1780s until shortly before his death in 1836. It is an invaluable source on the radical sociability of the 1790s and its aftermath. But it raises questions about how he reconciled his extensive sociability with his critique of social conventions, manners and fashion.