The personal papers of Emily Penrose held at the British School at Athens consist of one personal diary, donated by Sir James and Lady Graham in 2018. Emily Penrose (1858-1942) was the eldest daughter of Francis Cranmer Penrose, the first Director of the British School at Athens and the architect who designed the first building of the School, the Upper House. Emily resided in the Upper House, along with her family, from November 1886 to November 1887, the first academic year the British School at Athens was in session. Her personal diary, now in the BSA Archives, contains daily entries from March to November 1887 of her time living in Greece. From November 1887, when Francis Penrose handed over the directorship to Ernest Gardner, Emily’s entries continue from elsewhere, recording the family’s journey through Italy on their return home to Britain. Intermittent entries after that (December 1887 to 5 September 1888) chronicle Emily’s studies, exams and finally her entry into Somerville College, Oxford, where she later was principal from 1907-1926.
Emily Penrose’s diary not only provides a glimpse at life at the BSA during its first year but also of Greece during that time. In a succinct style, she wrote about people, places, books, sketches, music, Greek holidays and customs, and excursions to places like Mycenae, Penteli, Aegina and Delphi. She commented on contemporary archaeological activity, interacted with the academic community, and regularly visited the ancient monuments, museums and private collections in Athens.