Category Archives: blog

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.
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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.
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A biographer’s dilemma

In the long task of writing the life of Anne Lister, the same dilemma has dogged me almost from the beginning of my odyssey some ten years ago.
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  • 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.]