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An alternate cover edition can be found hereAnne Lister defied the role of womanhood seen in the novels of Jane Austen she was bold fiercely independent a landowner industrialist traveler and a lesbian She kept extensive diaries of her life and loves written partly in code Made up of Greek letters mingled with other symbols of her own devising Anne referred to the code as her crypthand and the use of it allowed her the freedom to describe her intimate life in great detail Her diaries have been edited by Helena Whitbread who spent years decoding and transcribing them


10 thoughts on “The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister

  1. says:

    I first found out about Anne Lister when I saw ads on the BBC a while back for a TV adaptation of her story I'm very interested in the lives of ueer people throughout history so I was naturally uite interested to find out about her Sarah Waters long a favorite of mine also had some words to say about Anne Lister's life so that definitely helped piue my curiosityI found this book very interesting and something I could just sit back and take in For a lot of people it's bound to be considered uite boring because she never intended this to ever be read by anyone and a lot of it is her listing off what she did that day what she bought etc So it's definitely not for everyone If you're looking for a page turner I wouldn't recommend picking this one up But if you're interested in the lives of unconventional people in history especially women andor ueer people and have a love for jumping back in time it's worth a readI was particularly impressed with the nerve she had to be so masculine presenting during the hyper feminine Regency era She experienced a lot of ridicule and struggled mightily throughout her life for being who she was despite the fact that she was the member of gentry She was also uite a snob and really had a problem with vulgar people I found it particularly interesting that at that time close female friends not lovers but just friends didn't seem to have a problem with discussing matters of sexuality especially in regards to homosexuality There was much knowledge of homosexuality at that time than I think modern people realize It was surprising to hear her make mention of how she openly admitted to most people that she knew including her aged aunt and uncle that she was not interested in men but wanted female companionship It's a slice of life book While not riveting it is definitely interesting to a specific reader interested in history ueer lives women's lives or all of the above


  2. says:

    ‘I owe a great deal to this diary’Anne Lister 3 April 1791 2291840 was a member of a family of prominent land owners the Listers of Shibden Hall in Halifax West Yorkshire UK In 1813 when her surviving brother accidentally drowned Anne became heir to Shibden Hall During her lifetime Anne kept a diary which runs to some four million words Thanks to this diary we have access to a lot of detail about Anne's life her sexual and emotional relationships with women; the minutiae of upper class 18th century daily life; and the castes and customs of life in a provincial townIn this book Helena Whitbread has concentrated on the years from 1816 to 1824 this is the period during which Anne's two most significant relationships with Mariana Lawton nee Belcombe and Isabella Norcliffe developed and are chronicled in significant detail`I love and only love the fairer sex and thus beloved by them in turn my heart revolts from any love but theirs' from 29 January 1821In her introduction Ms Whitbread writes that Anne Lister began her diaries in 1806 with entries becoming detailed from 1808 But as the entries became detailed Anne developed a code which she refers to as `crypthand' which gave her the freedom to describe her life in great detail After all no one else would be able to understand the code would they?The story of how the diaries were discovered decrypted then hidden because of their contents and then finally partially published is fascinating So is the content especially but by no means exclusively to those interested in women's and lesbian history Anne Lister's account of 18th century life of the detail of routine life and of her activities and aspirations is absorbing Some of her views and opinions would seem uite archaic to many of us today but then she never intended for us to be reading them Now that I have read this book I am keen to know about Anne Lister's life Particularly after 1826 when she became the owner of the Shibden estateApparently many of Anne's neighbours saw her as an eccentric a bluestocking who learned Latin Greek and Geometry and who discussed politics Anne Lister was the first woman to be elected to the Halifax Literary and Philosophical Society The BBC has made a documentary drama about Anne Lister which I've not yet seen If you are interested in the social history of this era from less conventional perspective you may enjoy reading this book I did Jennifer Cameron Smith


  3. says:

    Of the twenty seven volumes of elaborately coded diaries which have thankfully survived comprising four million words and covering a thirty four year period it has been an absolute delight to read this wonderfully edited book of journal extracts and to have been provided with a vivid and fascinating insight into the fabric of Anne Lister’s life between 1817 and 1824 In 1819 Anne a passionately independent woman self educated scholar lesbian heiress entrepreneur traveller wrote in her diary“I am resolved not to let my life pass without some private memorial that I may hereafter read perhaps with a smile when Time has frozen up the channel of sentiments which flow so freshly now”Anne’s resolve like her desire and her gallant endeavours to satisfy it her authenticity self discernment her striking confidence astuteness her sophisticated manner and blatant haughtiness has left me feeling utterly intoxicated I am eager to get started on my very next ‘read’ another publication in the wonderful ‘Cutting Edge Lesbian Life and Literature’ series and again expertly transcribed and edited by Helena Whitbread entitled No Priest But Love The Journals of Anne Lister From 1824 1826


  4. says:

    The Diaries of Anne Lister is definitely the oldest “lesbian” book I’ve read to date I’m putting lesbian in uotation marks because what is actually the most fascinating things about the diary is how Anne Lister explores her attraction to women and her sexual identity in a time before sexuality was such a defining characteristic for our identities and before the word lesbian even existed with our contemporary understanding of it if anyone as nerdy as me is wondering “lesbian” was first used in 1890 as “female homosexual” according to the Oxford English Dictionary—so it’s really a relatively new word Back to Anne Lister she was an upper class Englishwoman living in Halifax and Shibden Hall West Yorkshire in the early 1800s who kept a very comprehensive diary of her life a significant amount of which was written in a code that Lister herself had createdsee the rest of my review here


  5. says:

    Amazing woman What a life she had


  6. says:

    I came to learn of Anne Lister through the BBC's version of her diaries I thought that she sounded very interesting and wanted to know about her So after buying this book I looked forward to it hoping it would be just as good Sadly I was disappointed The time that the book covers doesn't include her later life when she found Miss Walker Though she writes about the women who were in her life such as Marina and Miss Browne you don't hear much about Miss Walker This book just didn't interest me and I found it uite boring Anne seemed strong and clever but she also comes across as a snob I thought this because of what she wrote about Miss Browne who is someone who is of a lower class It was interesting to learn about what life was like in the 1800's and how hard it was for women Overall If your interested in women's lives in history then I would recommend this book


  7. says:

    Initially it seemed like this would be boring it's a lot of practice flute for half an hour called on a friend studied latin went to bed at 10 but there is uite a lot going on I was actually shocked at some of it I've always assumed same sex relationships existed in history but I suppose I imagined these upper class ladies being too timid to actually do much Anne doesn't give explicit detail but she makes it uite clear that she is sleeping with both M and Tib and at one point she suggests to her friend Miss Pickford she made another lesbian friend that surprised me too that she use a phallusI found that I didn't actually like Anne very much She spends a lot of time dismissing everyone around her as stupid and vulgar At one point she acuires an STD and then goes to bed with a friend and doesn't think to tell her When she finds out she has infected her friend she feels terrible but vows she will never reveal that it is her fault Speaking of diseases though I was fascinated by all the medical treatments mentioned in the book The number of times she mentions her teeth hurting or her eye being tired and leeches really gave me an idea of what it was like physically to be alive in 1824 I felt sad that probably none of the treatments had any effectI was disappointed that the book ended before Anne began her relationship with Miss Ann Walker I will check if there has been another volume published


  8. says:

    She was such a twat I love everything about her What a delight


  9. says:

    This covers both editions of Anne Lister's diariesOne of the oddities about reading Anne Lister is gaining an insight into someone who created an identity entirely sui generis and how that is to be compared to how we see sexuality and gender now That identity is certainly striking amounting to a frank declaration that Lister only loved women and that the thought of sexual attraction to men was repulsive to her If her sexuality is clear enough her gender is perhaps less so A plaue placed at a church where she and Ann Walker had pledged themselves to each other drew criticism for calling her 'gender non conforming'and omitting the word 'lesbian' but there's no real way to be certain whuch description is accurate Lister certainly presented as masculine with one lover being uncomfortable with the presence of a moustache while Frued would have relished statements like 'If I had a penis tho’ of but small length I should surely break the ice some of these times' This comes up on multiple occasions as when she is 'Thinking of Mrs Milne Fancying I had a penis was intriguing with her in the downstairs water closet at Langton before breakfast to which she would have made no objection' Earlier she contemplates 'Supposing myself in men’s clothes having a penis tho’ nothing ' The converse is also true that she had an aversion to 'anything that reminded me of my petticoats'The pictures continues to be complex when one considers the social and political context Lister was a landowner and accordingly held distinctly conservative views at a time when rioting and dissent were far from uncommon in Yorkshire As well as being opposed to reform she can eually be something of a prude writing that a theatrical performance was 'beyond anything I could have imagined it possible to bring forward on the stage particularly the Thèâtre Français Certainly not a scene for English ladies' A modern reader can't help but find it odd that a conversation between Lister and one of the Ladies of Llangollen consisted of decrying Lucretius on the grounds that 'He was a deistical writer she knew he was heterodox I observed that she might think all the classics objectionable' The most striking comment is her denunciation of a man on the grounds that 'To me his voice is so feminine as to be distressing – the striking because his appearance is not at all so' The sole concession to liberalism in the diaries is an endorsement of the view that girls could be educated to the same capacity as boys especially given that somuch of the diaries consist of Lister's autodidactism uite freuently she sees her relationships as essentially that of man and wife although if this is how Maria Barlow saw it she was nonetheless relegated to the role of mistress As such Lister writes 'In plain English she was too much like a mistress She was not my wife On returning up the new bank a man said ‘Are them man wife?’ Marianna I both coloured but she laughed said she did not mind it nor do I think she did'


  10. says:

    This is a very well researched book and contains numerous footnotes for those who wish to study further Don’t assume that it bears much resemblance to the television dramatization which doesn’t start until after this section of the diaries – though you may find you have Suranne Jones in mind when reading it I found it a brilliant window on the 1820s with Anne noting the prices of the things she bought some of which seemed very expensive for the times It also shows Anne’s snobbery as she even finds her own father and sister vulgar on occasion It serves as a social history document as much as anything and although the ‘secret’ part was translated from Anne’s own code it often refers to cleaning her stays so isn’t at all titillating If you’re looking for of the TV drama wait for the next series If you’re looking for a well researched history of the north of England in the early nineteenth century this is the book you need to read Extremely interesting