SARAH Stamford never expected her 1971 diary to see the light of day or be read by anyone besides her.

That’s all about to change as her book Portland Place: Secret Diary of a BBC Secretary is published by Brown today.

The almost-forgotten diary, which was gathering dust in an attic, is set to be a literary hit and a national newspaper was acquired serialisation rights.

She only wrote the diary for one year of her life and it turned out to be quite a momentous one both for her and the BBC.

At the time she wrote it she was a 19-year-old living in a hostel with not much money to do much in the evening, a not entirely happy home background and in the throes of her first love affair with an older man.

She wrote it in 1971 but it was only very recently she discovered it again getting ready to move to Bridport she discovered it in her loft.

As she started leafing through the dusty pages the memories came flooding back and she was hooked.

She had documented life in an office with manual typewriters and no internet and what was happening in the BBC’s schools programming department.

The new secretary also noted the minutiae of life in the 1970s, where she shopped, what for and how much it cost.

She said: “It’s both a personal history and an enjoyable social history.”

She said the contrast between her home life - where her father had remarried not altogether happily - and experiences of falling in love with a charming, older Irishman.

Sarah added that it’s abundantly clear she was rather naive and her experiences formed an ironic backdrop to what was going on in the BBC at the time - the controversial introduction of sex education programmes for primary school children.

She said: “It was all very innocent about bunnies and such but we were faced with a shoal of criticism.”

Sarah, now 64 and writing as Sarah Shaw, contacted some friends from her BBC days to have a laugh about her diary and they suggested she do something positive with it.

She typed it up and self published it and one of the friends passed it on to a literary agent who loved it.

She said: “It snowballed from there it was totally unexpected.

“I only wrote a diary that one year and I think I buried it because I thought it was something I didn’t want my children to read!”

Sarah earned her living as a secretary moving from company to company until her children were old enough for her to take on a Open University degree and a post graduate librarian qualification.

She has just retired from a post as a librarian at a Cambridge College.

Sarah will be signing copies of her book at Waterstones in Bridport from 10am to noon on June 11.

The Daily Telegraph has acquired the rights to the book.