• 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 travels

Anne Lister became an inveterate traveller throughout her adult life. She was fortunate enough to be able to afford the cost of living and travelling on the Continent for prolonged periods of time. Her first visit to Paris with her aunt in 1819 was an experience which awakened her ambition to see for herself the places which so far she had only encountered in her extensive readings.

In the winter of 1824-1825 she returned to Paris for a protracted stay, but her more adventurous travels were made possible when, following the death of her uncle, James Lister, in 1826, she came into her inheritance of the Shibden estate.

Defying the conventions of the early 19th century which decreed that women, if they travelled at all, should only be done if accompanied by a male protector or chaperone, Anne’s expeditions became ever more adventurous, especially during the last twelve years of her life.

Mountaineering in the Pyrenees became a challenge to her and in 1830 she was the first woman to ascend Mount Perdu, an achievement which was crowned by the even more difficult feat of completing, in 1838, the first ascent of Mount Vignemale and being not only the first woman, but also the first person, to do so.

Anne’s life was cut short at the age of forty-nine by what she termed her ‘wild but delightful wanderings’. In 1839 she, along with her partner, Ann Walker, embarked on her last thrilling journey to the Caucasus, a trip which was to cost Anne her life. Travelling through Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Russia, she reached Koutais near Tiflis (now Tblisi) in Georgia where she contracted a virulent fever. There, at the foot of the Caucasian mountains, she died. Her embalmed body was brought back to Shibden and she was buried in the Halifax parish church where she and her ancestors had worshipped for centuries.