Famous Journals: Anne Frank

Famous Journals: Anne Frank

Anne Frank received her first diary on her thirteenth birthday, 12 June 1942. She really wanted one, so her parents took her to the bookstore to choose which one she wanted. Anne didn’t actually really start writing in her diary until two days after her birthday. She hoped to become a famous writer or journalist, even when she doubted her abilities Anne knew all she wanted to do was write anyway. 

In the infamous diary Anne Frank wrote mostly in Dutch but throughout the diary you can find some German as well as English. Writing meant a great deal to Anne; she wrote “The nicest part is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings; otherwise, I'd absolutely suffocate. ( 16 March 1944.) She found it the best way to vent.

A vast majority of her diary entries were made out to Kitty, a fictional character from a book that Anne Frank had read, written by a Dutch author, Cissy van Marxveldt. She started to make the entries out to Kitty on 21st September 1942 and thereafter. She made this change after reading one of the books in Cissy van Marxveldt’s series, where part of the book is written in the form of letters. Often people think that there is only one diary of Anne Frank, when in fact she had a small collection of notebooks in which she wrote entries. 

The last entry made in her “original” diary was dated 5th December 1942, by that point she had been hiding in the secret annex for around 5 months, while the diary was not completely filled she considered it so. She did however go back to this diary and added entries at later dates, such as the entries added on 2nd May 1943 and on 22nd January 1944.

She did continue her writing in other notebooks, which were given to her by her sister as well as the helpers. The notebooks she had written in during 1943 did not, unfortunately, survive the lengths of time, however the two notebooks from 1944 have: one covers the period from 22nd December 1943 - 17th April 1944 and the other from 18th April 1944 - 1st August 1944, 3 days before her and her family were arrested. However, her rewritten versions of her writing during 1943 have.

Anne was inspired by an appeal on the radio from Dutch minister Bolkestein, He asked people to hang on to important documents, so that it would be clear after the war what they all had experienced. She wanted to publish a book about her time in hiding; she came up with the title: Het Achterhuis, or The Secret Annex. She started working on this project from 20th May 1944, she wrote the text for this all on separate sheets of paper, filling more than 215 sheets of paper. Anne rewrote some of her previous diary entries and added new one to make up her “book”. She focused on the time between 12th June 1942 to 29th March 1944 to base her experiences from.

While Anne used her diary as inspiration and a template to write her book there are many differences between the two. When Anne looked back at her first diary she was extremely critical and rewrote a majority of her entries.

Unfortunately, Anne never got to see the success of not only her book, but all of her writings. She passed away after 6 or 7 months in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp due to exhaustion. Her diaries were found by helpers Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl, who stored them until giving them to Anne Frank's father Otto.

Upon receiving his daughter’s work Otto worked to publish not only Anne’s book but also all the letters she had written alongside them. The Secret Annex was published on 25 June 1947. Otto compiled the book from Anne's rewritten version, her original diary texts and some of her short stories. He also corrected the language errors in Anne's texts.

In 1986, a scientific edition of Anne's texts was published. This edition presents Anne's diary text, her rewritten version, and Otto Frank’s version on the same page. This shows clearly how Anne changed the original texts, which choices Otto Frank made, and what he adapted, omitted, or changed.

Some of Anne Frank’s other books were called:

  1. Tales. Anne wrote 34 tales. About her schooldays, things that happened in the Secret Annex, or fairy tales she invented herself.
  2. The Book of Beautiful Sentences. These were not her own texts, but sentences and passages she copied from books she read in the hiding place. Her father inspired her to do so.
  3. Cady’s Life. This is the title of the novel Anne attempted to write. She quit after a few chapters.
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