Editing Difficulties

The diary is a candid and charming account of life on the farm from the point of view of a sensitive and bright 18 or 19 year old young woman whose written expression, typified by numerous misspellings, suggests a lack of formal education; but whose diction and essential articulation, despite occasional grammatical lapses (which may be no more than writing slips and colloquialisms) is mature and even genteel.

Although the weaknesses in spelling and grammar give the diary a quaintness which adds to its pleasing effect, in the present edition the spelling errors have been corrected and the punctuation improved; but the grammatical errors have been left to give some flavour of the original.

Where it has been difficult to determine whether a given error is a grammatical error or a misspelling, sometimes (as in "sit" in Sl0 and S1l where "sat would be appropriate but "set" may have been intended) the word has been left as Louisa wrote it ("git" for "get" has also been left uncorrected--to echo the pronunciation of "sit"). Other times (as in "meet" in A30 where "met" would be appropriate), the word has been interpreted as a misspelling and corrected since Louisa shows a clear tendency to use two vowels where one is called for (as in "bead" for "bed" in A26, "teen" for "ten" in S2, "stoop" for "stop" in S12, "weet" for "wet" in S16, "wee" for "we" in S27 and elsewhere, "fool" for "full" in A17, "seet" for "set" in O30).

In a sense, these corrections may be fairer to the diarist, who, had she known her first careless raptures would be published, might have welcomed the opportunity to consult someone about the spelling. And certainly, the edited version will more accurately and more directly represent Louisa's spoken expression, as, in that medium, there is no such thing as a misspelling.

Ultimately, the decision to correct the misspellings and improve the punctuation would have been forced by the fact that there are serious obstacles to producing a precise unedited and typed version of the manuscript. These obstacles are Louisa's handwriting and her poor spelling ability. Her handwriting is such that it is often impossible to distinguish certain vowels from other vowels (her a's from her e's, for example) and certain consonants from other consonants (her m's, n's, v's, and w's, for example, are often indistinguishable). The result is that while it is usually clear what word she is misspelling, it often isn't clear just how she is misspelling it.