The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bridget, back in the '20s

London, Dec. 2: If you thought the angst-ridden singleton epitomised by Bridget Jones was a creation of the Naughty 1990s, think again.

A newly-discovered diary, written in 1925, shows that women 80 years ago were just as obsessed with men, diets and relationships as their modern-day counterparts. The leather-bound journal, written in pencil by 17-year-old Ilene Powell, from Bristol, bears a striking resemblance to the fictional memoirs of Helen Fielding's neurotic thirty-something heroine.

Powell, a dance teacher with a penchant for dating several men at the same time, meticulously notes her weight and divulges diet tips in a style reminiscent of Bridget's obsession with counting calories.

On Wednesday January 14, she writes: 'I have lemon juice in hot water, with no sugar, instead of my first cup of tea, also apples before a VERY small breakfast of dry toast and weak tea ' if this doesn't get my fat down I'll give up dieting!'

The eight-stone shopaholic also shares love-life secrets about 'the boys' ' Bill, Bob, Mervyn and Claude ' in the same way that Bridget writes compulsively about Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver.

On Saturday February 7, she writes: 'Met Vera as usual, had coffee with the lads in the Oakroom. Went to teach dance with Bill, Mollie, Clarie and Mervyn. I danced with Jack Gough, Kent Hughes etc. Jack Woodley pinched car and took me to White Ladies. Danced with all the lads as usual, stopped Bill from going to the 'Old'. Had a good time. Six people asked to take me home. There was a fight and Morgan fainted. Ticked off JG for making love to me on the roof garden. Home at 1.30 'c.'

Found in a bag of donations at Oxfam's Cotham Hill shop in Bristol, the diary offers a glimpse into Powell's hectic life as she juggles boyfriends, shopping, theatre and tea dances. Unlike Bridget, who holds a full-time job in publishing, Powell rarely awakes before midday. Her diary entries paint a picture of a life involving lunch, having tea, playing table tennis, shopping and dancing with friends until late in the evening.

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