Joe's 1950 diary showing entries for his birthday on 1st January and shorthand used for the more 'sensitive' entries.

The Joe Orton Collection
University of Leicester

The University holds the full collection of Joe Orton's literary papers, correspondence and memorabilia. This includes manuscripts, personal letters, playbills and photographs.

See the catalogue of the collection here
Viewing is by appointment only.
To find out more contact the University Library
Tel: 0116 252 2056
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Joe Orton's diaries are discussed in a new series on BBC Four

Dear Diary
: Presented by Richard E Grant
BBC Four, 21:00, Monday 4th January 2010

The first in a series of three programmes asking what we get from reading – and writing – diaries.

Writing a diary can be dangerous. As can reading one. In the first part of Dear Diary, Richard E Grant, a diarist since childhood, uncovers the power of the diary. He considers the diaries of Joe Orton, Kenneth Williams, Erwin James, John Diamond and Rosemary Ackland and asks whether a diary should, or could, ever be totally honest, wholly accurate and absolutely true.

Richard talks with Joe Orton’s sister, Leonie, about her long-held belief that Orton’s confessional diary was actually responsible for him losing his life. Richard also meets prison diarist Erwin James to understand the power of writing for a serving offender. Joss Ackland tells Richard about editing his wife’s 50-plus years of diary writing. And Richard meets with Sheila Hancock to talk about Kenneth Williams’ diary, in which she appeared many times. Williams had a charming public face. But in the diaries he could be savage. He even wrote that he’d never again speak to Sheila Hancock.

The second programme in the series features Mariella Frostrup looking into Virginia Woolf and Anne Frank’s diaries and meeting the creator of Adrian Mole, Sue Townsend. The third features Rory Bremner journeying through the journals Samuel Pepys and Alan Clark, the diary of Captain Scott and joining Victoria Wood at the archive of the Mass-Observation project.

Executive Producer – Toby Stevens
Series Producer- Sarah Barclay

Sorry, this broadcast is no longer available on the BBC iplayer

Image: Courtesy The Orton Estate/Joe Orton Collection at the Library of the University of Leicester   Text © BBC Four  

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