Diaries and Memoirs

Ref: C2340338

Why do people feel the need to write personal accounts in the form of diaries and memoirs, and what can we learn from them? Taking a different theme each week, we look at entries from famous diarists - and then at lesser-known writers, including perhaps our own written memories of the past.

Course aim

The aim of this course is to look at history and literature using diaries and memoirs - famous and unknown, published and unpublished - as a focus.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • State some of the differences between diaries, memoirs and autobiographies, and give an opinion on the value and appeal of each.
  • Give some facts about famous diarists covered by the course booklets (Samuel Pepys, James Woodforde, Ann Frank, Alan Bennet) and compare the ways in which their lives are reflected in their writing.
  • Make a study of a chosen diarist or memoirist and report to the class.
  • Offer a reading or my own diary, either past or current (optional).

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • Students may want to search charity shops and second-hand bookshops for diaries and memoirs by writers that interest them, or to re-read records of their own, from teenage diaries to adult accounts of personal experiences.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • See note above - reading around this subject should be a pleasure whether undertaken in advance or during the course. If the writer bores you, find another writer!

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course information sheet

Diaries and Memoirs


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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