Nottingham

Shorthand diary from 1915 transcribed after Twitter appeal

Shorthand diary
Image caption The appeal for help led to a flurry of people on Twitter trying to transcribe the outlines

A diary written in shorthand in 1915 has been deciphered thanks to the help of a stranger on Twitter.

The diary belonged to Amy Abethell's great-great uncle Stanley Hooker, from Hull, who died in World War One.

Ms Abethell found the book earlier this month and appealed for someone to translate it.

Now a former shorthand teacher who transcribes it as a hobby has come up with the answers and helped "bring [Mr Hooker] alive" for the family.

Ms Abethell, from Nottingham, found the diary at her parents' house.

"I thought I'll post it on Twitter and see what happens, and it got a little bit mad with the responses," she said.

"People wanted to know what had happened, if anybody could understand it.

"There were people throwing their theories in, lots of questions. It was very bizarre."

Ms Abethell, 38, said the family knew little else but thought the diary was written when he was 15.

Mr Hooker joined the Royal Fusiliers and died in November 1918, aged 18.

"It's sad we didn't get to know him but this has made him real this many years on," she said.

The diary is written in Pitman shorthand - a method of quickly writing down information, often used by secretaries.

Kathryn Baird, who deciphers Pitman in her spare time, came across the tweets and said it was "a challenging example".

She said Mr Hooker talks about suffering with a cold, visits from friends and a job rejection for a shorthand typist role at a bank - but there are still some blanks.

Image caption Amy Abethell said the transcriptions helped make her great-great uncle "real"

"My hobby is a very niche thing," said the 64-year-old from Warmington, Northamptonshire.

"It doesn't look like there's anything secretive in his writing which is quite common but some parts are difficult to read."

She has since been sent more pages of the diary to decipher by Ms Abethell.

Image copyright Kathryn Baird
Image caption Kathryn Baird, who taught shorthand in the 1980s, came forward to transcribe the pages

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