Anne Lister (1791–1840) was a well-off Yorkshire landowner who is often called "the first modern lesbian" for her clear self-knowledge and openly lesbian lifestyle. Called Fred by her lover and "Gentleman Jack" by Halifax residents, she suffered from recorded harassment for her sexuality, and recognized her similarity to the Ladies of Llangollen. Her coded journals record her daily life, romances, and seductions, as well as her rigorous program of study. She also traveled widely.
She was a rural gentlewoman who directed the renovation and landscaping of Shibden Hall, near Halifax in the West Riding of Yorkshire. She inherited the hall from her uncle.
Anne was the daughter of Jeremy Lister who as a young man in 1775 served with the British 10th Regiment of Foot in the Battles of Lexington and Concord. He wrote a detailed account of the day's events, the original of which is kept at Shibden Hall.
During her life she wrote a four-million-word diary. Around one-sixth of the diary is encrypted and describes quite graphically her lesbian nature and affairs.
Her affair with a wealthy heiress, Ann Walker, was a story of local repute and her eventual marriage to Anne highly unusual.
During her life she adapted Shibden Hall quite significantly to her own design and took part in many activities that were not perceived as the norm for gentlewomen, such as owning a colliery.
Notable quotations[edit | edit source]
"I love and only love the fairer sex and thus beloved by them in turn, my heart revolts from any love but theirs."
"I know how to please girls."
Sources[edit | edit source]
- Whitbread, Helena. I Know My Own Heart: The Diaries of Anne Lister 1791–1840. (Virago, 1988)
- Whitbread, Helena. No Priest But Love: Excerpts from the Diaries of Anne Lister. (NYU Press, 1993)
- Liddington, Jill. Presenting the Past: Anne Lister of Halifax, 1791–1840. (Pennine Pens, 1994)
[edit | edit source]
- Anne Lister Page at Sappho.com — provides excerpts of her translated diaries
- Anne Lister page at From History to Her Story: Yorkshire Women's lives on-line — provides excerpts of her translated diaries, as well as images from the original
References[edit | edit source]
- Jill Liddington, Female Fortune: Land, Gender and Authority: The Anne Lister Diaries and Other writings, 1833–36.
- Muriel Green, Miss Lister of Shibden Hall: Selected Letters (1800–1840).