• 9th August 1818

    Mrs Page began talking about my getting married. Told me I had a good figure, good complexion, held myself well & was, she thought, good-tempered. That I should be good-looking if I dressed my hair with bows, as they do now, and with curls, etc. She is a vulgar, good sort of woman, fond of giving her opinions and advice. I took it all well, was amused, led her on & praised her &, I daresay, came off with flying colours.

Sea, sand and sex in Georgian Scarborough

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.

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