• From Anne’s diary, Friday 10th August 1832 (age 42)

    [The first time that Anne Lister put her thoughts in writing about the possibility of courting Ann Walker, the young heiress who lived at Lidgate in the neighbourhood of Shibden.]

    ‘… Thought I, as I have several times done of late, shall I try & make up to her?’

  • From Anne’s diary, Sunday 5th January 1834 (age 43)

    [After eighteen months of an on-and-off courtship, Anne was unsure about whether or not there could be a permanent relationship between them.]

    ‘…Miss W[alker] talks as if she would be glad to take me – then if I say anything decisive she hesitates to. I tell her it is all her money which is in the way. The fact is, she is as she was before [i.e. indecisive], but determined to get away from the Sutherlands and feels the want of me. But [I need to] take someone with more mind and less money. Steph [Belcombe – i.e. Mariana’s brother] is right: she would be a great pother [sic]. [I] have nothing serious to say to her – she wants better manning than I can manage.’

    [See also Jill Liddington’s Female Fortune. Rivers Oram Press. 1998. p.85.]

Anne’s journal as a refuge from the world

Anne was aware of the impression her masculinity or her ‘oddity’, as she called it, made upon people. Usually she was able to rise above the vulgar taunts of the rougher elements in the town.

As a member of the landed gentry, however minor, her social status in the town enabled her to consider herself above the crowd. When accosted in the streets by strange men who attempted to become over-familiar with her, her sense of dignity was both affronted and reinforced. On one such occasion, after politely exchanging a few civilities with a carter who had stopped her on her way home,

“I had wished him good night & had not gone more than 2 or three yards before he called out, ‘Young woman. Do you want a sweetheart?’ ‘What!’ said I angrily, ‘I never listen to such impertinence but I shall know you again, & mind you never speak to me again’. He muttered something, I know not what. Did the man mean to be impertinent, or was he encouraged by my talking to him? It will be a lesson to me to take care to whom I talk to in future. One can hardly carry oneself too high or keep people at too great a distance.” [Journal entry 5th May 1820.]

Her greatest refuge from the ‘slings and arrows’ of the world was her journal.

“I owe a good deal to this journal. By unburdening my mind on paper I feel, as it were, in some degree to get rid of it; it seems made over to a friend that hears it patiently keeps it faithfully, and by never forgetting anything, is always ready to compare the past & present & thus to cheer & edify the future.” [Journal entry 22nd June 1821.]

I wonder, was Anne’s perceived snobbishness partly a defence mechanism as she ran the gamut of rude remarks in the streets?

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