The Diary of John Grano
The Grano diary is one of the treasures of the Bodleian Library’s Rawlinson collection of manuscripts. It was written by a musician who had worked under the direction of George Frederick Handel at the opera house in London’s Haymarket. From 30 May 1728 to 23 September 1729 – the exact period of the diary – he was a prisoner for debt in the Marshalsea, that curious institution which gave the pensioned and relatively privileged inmates of the Master’s Side a certain freedom to come and go – and to entertain the friends who were drawn here by sociability, compassion, or the desire to test its louche reputation. Within this framework, John Baptist Grano’s diary becomes a record of social manoeuvring but with the underlying theme of a man’s attempt to salvage his career and reestablish himself in the world outside the prison gate. The editorial intention has been to reconstruct the life and times of the writer by analyzing the dramatis personae and the pattern of relationships revealed by the text, which is here punctuated by a series of explanatory links. Grano throws light on the social and musical life of his age, but the greatest fascination of the diary is the Marshalsea itself and the men and women who by various meansпїЅpathetic, comic, heroicпїЅkept hope alive in their dilapidated Southwark Castle.