The life of Bruce Frederick Cummings, who wrote under the name of W. N. P. Barbellion, was short, tragically curtailed by multiple sclerosis. He was born in 1889 and died in 1919. Started when he was thirteen, this remarkable journal, described by Ronald Blythe as 'among the most moving diaries ever created', documents the rest of his life. Filled with devastating frankness, keen observation and a sort of stoicism, it is, in the words of the author ' a study in the nude'. One of the last entries can act as his epitaph: 'I am only twenty-eight, but I have telescoped into those few years a tolerably long life: I have loved and married, and have a family; I have wept and enjoyed, struggled and overcome, and when the hour comes I shall be content to die.'
W. N. P. Barbellion ( Bruce Frederick Cummings)(1889-1919) was a naturalist by profession working at the Natural History Museum. He suffered ill-health from childhood, and, when rejected for active service in the First World War, discovered he was suffering from what is now known as multiple sclerosis.
His distinctive pseudonym was created in the following way. The initials stood for three people he deemed failures: W(ilhelm) N(ero) P(ilate), and the surname, Barbellion, was taken from a sweetshop in Bond Street.