• 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.]

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.

The relationship between the two women had now reached a crisis point. Mariana, entrenched in her life as a married woman with a rich Cheshire landowner husband, was becoming fearful that the nature of their relationship might be found out. In a letter written to Anne in the July of 1823, she had asked that Anne be circumspect, adding

‘I had a feeling on the subject that no earthly power can remove & great as the misery which it would entail upon myself might be, I would endure it all rather than the nature of our connection should be known to any human being.’ [The journals of Anne Lister. 22.7.1823]

Anne is disillusioned with Mariana’s lack of trust and snobbish concern with her respectability.

‘She is too tamely worldly: her whole conduct is worldly to the farthest verge that craven love can bear.’ [ibid. 20.8.1823]

Their sojourn in Scarborough is fraught with emotional difficulties which, to Anne, indicates that a crossroads in their relationship has been reached.

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