I have just returned from a holiday in the seaside town of Scarborough, North Yorkshire, with my sister and daughter.
Scarborough featured quite prominently at certain stages in Anne Lister’s life. A chapter in my forthcoming biography of Anne Lister concentrates on the time she spent there with her lover, Mariana Lawton.
The relationship between the two women had now reached a crisis point. Mariana, entrenched in her life as a married woman with a rich Cheshire landowner husband, was becoming fearful that the nature of their relationship might be found out. In a letter written to Anne in the July of 1823, she had asked that Anne be circumspect, adding
‘I had a feeling on the subject that no earthly power can remove & great as the misery which it would entail upon myself might be, I would endure it all rather than the nature of our connection should be known to any human being.’ [The journals of Anne Lister. 22.7.1823]
Anne is disillusioned with Mariana’s lack of trust and snobbish concern with her respectability.
‘She is too tamely worldly: her whole conduct is worldly to the farthest verge that craven love can bear.’ [ibid. 20.8.1823]
Their sojourn in Scarborough is fraught with emotional difficulties which, to Anne, indicates that a crossroads in their relationship has been reached.