Anne, the writer
Anne Frank at the Sixth Montessori School, Amsterdam, 1941
On her 13th birthday, Anne receives a diary as a gift from her parents. At first she finds it a little odd to be writing in a diary. She can’t imagine that anyone would ever be interested in the musings of a 13-year-old girl.
What Anne appears to need is to vent her feelings. The first thing she writes it: “I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.”
While she’s in hiding, Anne decides to think of her diary as a friend, whom she names Kitty. It makes the writing easier. Besides, she doesn’t really have a real friend, ‘and that’s how the whole idea of keeping a diary started’, she admits. ‘All I think about when I‘m with friends is having a good time. I can’t bring myself to talk about anything but ordinary everyday things. We don’t seem to be able to get any closer, and that’s the problem. Maybe it’s my fault that we don’t confide in each other. In any case, that’s just how things are, and unfortunately they’re not liable to change. This is why I’ve started the diary.’
Brought along to the Secret Annex
When the Frank family goes into hiding, the first thing Anne packs is her diary. And once she’s in the Secret Annex, she applies herself to writing in it almost daily. The life she leads now is totally different to her previous carefree existence. Anne has a lust for life and it's hard for her to be confined indoors, and forced to be quiet. Her diary helps her.
Auguste wants to read it
Mrs van Pels is cheeky enough to ask if she can read it. ‘No, ma'am,' says Anne politely but firmly. Her sister Margot has better luck. Anne promises her she can read certain parts, but only if Anne herself can read Margot’s diary in return.
Anne finds writing an increasingly enjoyable pursuit. In the summer of 1943 she starts writing her own short stories. Sometimes she reads them aloud to others in the Secret Annex. She also starts a ‘book of beautiful sentences’, a collection of her favourite sentences copied from the works of other writers.
The table of contents of Anne's 'Tales" book, an account book in which she wrote short stories.
Anne rewrites her diary
On March 28, 1944, minister Bolkestein of the Dutch government in exile makes a broadcast on Radio Orange, calling on people to save their diaries. Anne, listening with the others in the Secret Annex, needs no further encouragement. She starts to seriously rework her diary and calls it The Secret Annex. Anne feels increasingly certain that once the war is over, she wants to make use of her talent for writing. She dreams of becoming a journalist, and then a famous writer. And if it turns out that she lacks the talent to write books or newspaper articles, she can always just write for her own pleasure, she tells herself. ‘But I want to achieve more than that. I can’t imagine having to live like Mother, Mrs van Pels and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people.’
Portions from Anne's diary.