• 7th June 1818

    Thinking that Miss Browne, her current ‘crush’ was avoiding her, Anne wrote: “‘Tis well, I deserve it. Miss Browne is right ... I will think no more of her ... and make myself scarce to everyone, determined to devote myself solely to study & the acquirement of that literature which may make me eminent & more decidedly above them all hereafter ... My mind was intent on these reflections as I walked along & I resolved to stick diligently to my watchword – discretion, & next to good, to devote myself to study.”

I Know My Own Heart

Upon publication, the first volume of Anne Lister’s diaries, I Know My Own Heart, met with celebration, delight, and some scepticism. How could an upper class Englishwoman, in the first half of the nineteenth century, fulfil her emotional and sexual needs when her sexual orientation was toward other women? How did an aristocratic lesbian manage to balance sexual fulfilment with social acceptability? Helena Whitbread, the editor of these diaries, here allows us an inside look at the long-running love affair between Anne Lister and Mariana Lawton.

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