The diaries of men like Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn and the books written after the fire by Samuel Rolle, Thomas Vincent and many others help give us a vivid picture of the Great Fire. Without their record of the event we can only imagine the fear, desperation and loss experienced by Londoners. By reading these works we can see the fire through the eyes of people who were actually there and understand the effect it had.
Pepys describes his despair at watching his beloved city reduced to ashes and was haunted by nightmares for weeks afterwards. Evelyn gives a moving account of the ‘shrieking of the women and children’ and the fate of homeless Londoners ‘ready to perish from hunger and destitution’. They also reveal the attitudes of people at the time, the sequence of events and the long-term effects of the Fire.