Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wesley Brother's Diary Shorthand Broken

I could have sworn I blogged this already, but apparently I just did it in my head. Hate when that happens. Anyway.

Via Shelf:Life, the Liverpool Daily Post reported this week that the diary written by Charles Wesley has been fully 'decoded' for the first time. Wesley, along with his brother John, was a major figure in the founding the Methodist church, and his diary (which extends to more than 1,000 manuscript pages with entries dating from 1736 through 1756) reveals much about Charles' views on theological and personal matters.

The new transcription of Wesley's manuscript has been made by Professor Kenneth Newport of Liverpool Hope University, and it took nearly a decade of work. The original diary is held at the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester.

Of Wesley's shorthand system, using occasionally throughout the diary, Newport told the paper: "The code is abbreviated severely, sometimes to just one letter, vowels are omitted and it’s literally a string of consonants without breaks in parts. He often runs whole sentences into one and writes phonetically, not how words are spelt. I kept finding 'hr' and it took ages to uncover this meant 'holy writ'."

Newport plans to publish the full version of Wesley's diary, as well as several thousand previously unpublished poems and hymns written by Wesley.

Here's a BBC video report on the Wesley diary which shows images of the shorthand.