• 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.]

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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