Guest Informant: Jess Nevins

Traditionally the commonplace book had been intended for the compiler’s eyes only, but by the 19th century the commonplace book was intended to be seen by the friends of the compiler. The usual practice was to pass the book to a friend, who would sign it and add his or her own favorite quotes and poems. Social status was conferred by having a well-known member of the community or poet or artist sign your commonplace book, but for the most part the book was meant as a record of your friends. The commonplace book was no longer about remembering quotes, but about remembering friends, and presenting yourself to them. Your friends would judge you on what was in your commonplace book, what you read and what you wrote. And the farther your commonplace book circulated, the more signatures you received in it and the more worldly your poetic excerpts showed you to be, the higher in social ranking you rose among your friends.

You can see the resemblance to Facebook, can’t you?


  1. jesusgaray posted this