The Diary of Joshua Whiting, banker's clerk and amateur beekeeper, covers the years 1861-1873. It has survived by chance and as well as being a valuable historical document it is an absorbing window into the life and hobby of a prominent citizen, countryman and Quaker of the period. It will be of special interest to the residents of Hitchin, gardeners, bankers and beekeepers or indeed anyone interested in how a quiet life was lived in unquiet times.
The beautiful cover for Joshua Whiting’s diary was contrived by the Ebor Press from that of Thomas Miller’s Common Wild Flowers, illustrated by Birket Foster. On the flyleaf of my copy is pasted a letter from Elizabeth, wife of James Hack Tuke, to Rebecca Whiting on her return to Hitchin with Joshua after their wedding tour. Its cover caught my eye when I found the book in a dilapidated second-hand bookshop in Hitchin Churchyard sometime during the war. I knew nothing of Elizabeth or Rebecca, and had no idea that this book had any family connections, but fell for its charm, probably spending no more than a shilling. The coincidence of its finding and safe survival is powerful, and just one of the many happy chances that have run through the project of compiling Joshua’s diary.