Diaries are usually seen as somewhere to write one’s deepest secrets, a book hidden from the eyes of others.

They make for compelling reading and provide a unique insight into the people at the centre of history’s greatest scandals and events. They provide priceless material for biographers, travel writers and historians - which is why the Boswell Book Festival is dedicating Friday, June 11 to diary writing.

Earlier this year, the author Simon Heffer edited the diaries of politician Henry ‘Chips’ Channon to great acclaim. This record once and for all gets to the heart of what really happened – who said what to whom - in the highly charged years between the two world wars.

Channon, an American, married into the Guinness brewing family could view high society with an outsider’s eye. His writing is a mix of fascination with royalty and wealth as well as character assassination.

Cumnock Chronicle:

He mentions attending his favourite race meeting at Ayr, held “usually in a downpour of rain” and the members of the Caledonian Club wearing pink coats and hop hats. The next volume of the diaries will be published in the autumn and will cover Channon’s close friendship with Peter Coats who grew up in Sundrum Castle near Coylton.

Heffer will be joined in the first session of the day by Hugo Vickers who was chosen by Royal photographer Cecil Beaton to write his authorised biography. As a result Vickers was given all of Beaton’s personal and business letters and his 145 volumes of manuscript diaries which form the basis of his fascinating account of how the son of a timber merchant became one of the most celebrated photographers in the world.

Cumnock Chronicle:

The final session of the day will bring together two travel writers, Kapka Kassabova (To The Lake) and Rory Stewart MP (The Places Inbetween) who will discuss keeping journals during their journeys around Central Europe and Afghanistan respectively. In writing their award-winning books, did they rely to a large extent on diaries written on the hoof? If so, what form did they take?

If anything could inspire picking up a pen and writing down experiences and emotions, it will be one of these sessions.

Boswell Book Festival starts on June 10 and all events are free to view.