• 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.]

Diary archives


Diary archives

Quotes from Anne Lister’s diary archives above

The Anne Lister quotes shown on this page all feature in Secret Diaries Past & Present by Helena Whitbread and modern-day lesbian diarist Natasha Holme.

Copies of Anne Lister’s journal pages are by kind permission of the West Yorkshire Archive Service (catalogue reference SH:7/ML/E).


I begin to despair that M- & I will ever get together. Besides I sometimes fancy she will be worn out in the don’s service & perhaps I may do better.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 28th May 1817.


Thinking of Miss B & just escaped +

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 12th September 1818.


How frail is nature. How weak are all our purposes. ’Twas only last night, just before going to sleep, that I prayed fervently for God’s assistance in all things. Oh, what a falling-off in me this morning. I have no confidence in myself, no strength to help myself — but I will not despair. I will yet pray & try, I hope with better success, to amend. Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 13th January 1819.

I am resolved not to let my life pass without some private memorial that I may hereafter read, perhaps with a smile, when Time has frozen up the channel of those sentiments which flow so freely now.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 19th February 1819.

Isabella, much to my annoyance, mentioned my keeping a journal & setting down everyone’s conversation in my peculiar handwriting (what I call crypthand). I mentioned the almost impossibility of its being deciphered & the facility with which I wrote & not at all shewing my vexation at Isabella’s folly in naming the thing.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 16th August 1819.


I am pleased that I have kept my accounts so correctly. It is a real satisfaction to me & must be the best safeguard against extravagance … I will always make my income suffice my expences & something more.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 27th April 1820.


Burnt all Caroline Greenwood’s foolish notes & Mr Montagu’s farewell verses that no trace of any man’s admiration may remain. It is not meet for me. I love & only love the fairer sex & thus beloved by them in turn, my heart revolts from any other love than theirs.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 29th January 1821.

I owe a good deal to this journal. By unburdening my mind on paper I feel, as it were, 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.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 22nd June 1821.


Extracting some memoranda from a little red morocco pocket case with asses’ skin leaves that was Eliza Raine’s, previous to rubbing out all the writing & using the case in common for memoranda notes made on the spot for my journal. This plan will save me much trouble & I shall always be sure as I travel along that my observations, when made at the instant, are correct, at least as far as they can be so.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 2nd September 1822.


She was the character I had long wished to meet with, to clear up my doubts whether such a one existed nowadays.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 1st August 1823.

I know my own heart & I know men. I am not made like any other I have seen. I dare believe myself to be different from any others who exist.
Love scorned to leave the ruin desolate; & Time & he have shaded it so sweetly, my heart still lingers in its old abiding place.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 20th August 1823.

But I mean to amend at five & thirty & retire with credit. I shall have a good fling before then. Four years. And in the meantime I shall make my avenae communes, my wild oats common. I shall domiciliate then.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 30th August 1823.

Writing my journal has amused & done me good. I seemed to have opened my heart to an old friend. I can tell my journal what I can tell none else.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 16th September 1823.

How shockingly foolish I am. I really will amend. I now begin to feel I owe it to M-.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 21st October 1823.


It was my journal that frightened people. She had made up her mind not to open her lips before me. Mrs Rawson, at the Saltmarshes’, had abused my poor journal–wished I would destroy it–it reminded me of a great deal I had better forget.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 25th March 1824.

Sat down to my journal…the last 2½ hours, I have gradually written myself from moody melancholy to cheerful contentedness.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 31st May 1824.

I spoke against a classical education for ladies in general. It did no good if not pursued & if [it was] undrew a curtain better for them not to peep behind.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 20th September 1824.

[I] said, how it was all nature. Had it not been genuine the thing would have been different. [I] said I had thought much, studied anatomy, etc., but could not find it out. Could not understand myself. It was the effect of the mind. No exterior formation accounted for it.

From Anne Lister’s journal entry of 13th November 1824.