The Diarists: This week in history


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The Independent Culture

15 September 1927

Count Harry Kessler German diplomat: "Last night [the American dancer] Isadora Duncan was strangled by her own shawl when it was caught in the back wheel of the car in which she was travelling. The shawl that was so much part of her dancing has… taken its revenge on her. Seldom has an artist been so intimately beset by tragedy. Her two small children were killed in a car accident; her husband committed suicide. Now her own life has been ended by this object which was so indispensable to her."

20 September 1943

Norman Lewis intelligence officer in Italy: "We finally got the jeep to Salerno…. German mortar bombs were exploding in the middle of a small square only 100 yards from Security Headquarters. Here I saw an ugly sight: a British officer interrogating an Italian civilian and repeatedly hitting him about the head with a chair; treatment which the Italian, his face a mask of blood, suffered with stoicism. At the end of the interrogation… the officer called in a private and asked him in a pleasant sort of manner, 'Would you like to take this man away, and shoot him?' The private's reply was to spit on his hands, and say, 'I don't mind if I do, sir.' The most revolting episode I have seen since joining the forces."

20 September 1720

Thomas Hearne, antiquarian: "Yesterday was a great Foot-race at Woodstock between a running Footman of the Duke of Wharton's and a running Footman of Mr Diston's of Woodstock round the four-mile course. Mr Diston's Man, being about 25 years of age (& the Duke's about 45) got it with ease, outdistancing the Duke's nearly half a Mile. They both ran naked, there being not the least scrap of anything to cover them, not so much as Shoes or Pumps, which was look'd upon deservedly as the height of Impudence & greatest Affront to the Ladies, of which there was a great number."