Category Archives: blog

My road to discovering Anne Lister: Fateful Encounter #1

There are certain days in a person’s life which can mark a change so dramatic that life is never quite the same again. Such a change happened to me in 1983, the day I walked into the archive department of the library in my home town of Halifax, in West Yorkshire.
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My road to discovering Anne Lister: Fateful Encounter #2

The mid-life impulse which led me to invest years in college and university was based, not only on a desire to complete my education (if it can be said that one’s education is ever completed!) but also a long-held desire to become a writer. The challenge was to discover which genre would provide the most fulfilment of this ambition.
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Christmas in Paris with Anne Lister

The Christmas of 1824 finds Anne, along with her maid Elizabeth Wilkes Cordingley, in Paris. They were staying at a modest guest house or pension at 24, Place Vendome. The proprietors were a M. & Mme de Boyve. Anne’s journal entry for Christmas day illustrates the difficulties of something which we all take for granted–that of taking a bath.
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When TV stars step from behind the screen

It is not often that a TV star asks to spend a day with you in your own home, but that is what happened to me once the BBC had decided to make a film from the book of extracts which I had edited from the journals of Anne Lister.
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Sally Wainwright’s epic series about Anne Lister

I am thrilled to be able to say that Sally Wainwright, brilliant writer and BAFTA winner of hugely acclaimed TV series such as Happy Valley and the Bronte drama To Walk Invisible, has at last achieved her ambition to write an epic series about Anne Lister to be entitled Shibden Hall. Filming is to begin nest year.
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Anne Lister and same-sex marriage

One of the hottest topics of the day in the gay community is that of same-sex marriages. Almost two hundred years earlier Anne Lister, in the two serious relationships of her adult years, firstly with Mariana Lawton and then with Ann Walker, tried to emulate, so far as was possible, the rituals performed in the heterosexual world.
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Tufthunter

During a visit to York, Anne Lister’s friend and ex-lover, Isabella Norcliffe, accused Anne, half-jokingly, of being a “tuft-hunter.”
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Two lesbian diarists in two different eras

What would two women, separated by two hundred years, both writing their diaries in a secret code, have in common?
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A glimpse of Anne Lister’s Christmas of 1810

Christmas night, 1810, found Anne writing a wistful letter to her new love, Isabella Norcliffe, in which she imagines her lover dancing the night away at the Assembly Rooms in York.
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Secret Diaries Past & Present

Was Anne Lister unique as the only lesbian who kept a diary in code so that she could talk freely about her love-affairs with women? In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I was convinced that she was.
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  • From Anne’s diary, 9th August 1818 (age 28)

    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.