• 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.

Secret Diaries Past & Present

“When I first heard that you have been keeping a diary from a young age and, furthermore, that you had used an esoteric code, I was immediately interested. I was further intrigued by the fact that you are a lesbian and wrote about your sexual life. It seemed to me that a modern parallel could be drawn with Anne Lister, the early 19th century lesbian diarist who had written a great deal about her lesbian sexuality in her journals, couched in a secret code of her own devising. I thought it would be interesting to see how far this hypothesis could be taken and wondered if you would be willing to join me in an exploration of the similarities and differences, as diarists and as lesbians, between yourself and a woman who lived some two hundred years before your time.”

Helena Whitbread

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