• 10th Nov 1818

    Ellen [Empson] & I had a long confab. Told her I was often in low spirits & she owned I had some reason – my father’s managing his estate so ill & living in that quere [sic] sort of way at Weighton. I said I often wanted a companion – someone to take care of me & now she was gone there was nobody I cared about. Said she, very innocently, “Why did you let me marry?” “What could I do? You never asked me.” “That is true enough. I never asked anybody.” She seemed to feel a great deal interested about me – said I was odd but hoped I would not change.

About Helena Whitbread

Helena Whitbread is an historian and the editor of the diaries of Anne Lister, a wealthy, independent, nineteenth century lesbian landowner.

Three decades ago Helena elected to study the journals of Anne Lister, a past occupant of the local Shibden Hall in Helena’s home town of Halifax. At that time she was completely unaware of the journals’ explosive contents.

Only gradually did the truth of Anne’s lesbian sexuality begin to reveal itself. By publishing the first volume of Anne’s journals in 1988, then entitled I Know My Own Heart, Helena Whitbread made lesbian history. Such detailed and candid expression of lesbian love and sex that took place two hundred years ago had never previously been known.

In 1993, Helena published a second volume of Anne Lister’s diaries, No Priest But Love, which boldly includes more revelations of Anne’s romantic and sexual intrigues than the first.

Helena is currently working on Anne Lister’s biography.

The lesbian world owes a great deal to Helena Whitbread for her ongoing committed study of the life and diaries of Anne Lister.