• 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.

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.

“Anne Lister is a gift to a dramatist,” said Wainwright. “She is one of the most exuberant, thrilling and brilliant women in British history, and I can’t wait to celebrate her. Landowner, industrialist, traveler, mountaineer, scholar, would-be brain surgeon and prolific diarist. … To bring Anne Lister to life on screen is the fulfillment of an ambition I’ve had for twenty years.”

Last Friday I was at Shibden Hall, where I was with a TV production team who were making a documentary about iconic houses which have been inhabited by gay people who have contributed something of value to society. It was quite a memorable day, gathering, as it did, a hugely talented group of people which included the singer/songwriters O’Hooley and Tidow (they of “Gentleman Jack” fame–among other great songs) and Mary Portas, the fashion queen–such a lovely down-to-earth woman, who presented the programme. And, of course, the production team themselves.

The day was complete when Sally Wainwright paid an impromptu visit to the Hall and everyone was delighted to see her. Although being filmed is not my favourite occupation (I much prefer sitting at my desk writing about Anne Lister), I think Friday, 31st March 2017 will be one of my happiest memories in my “Anne Lister career.”

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