Special guest post from Averill’s Sex in Modern History class Honors student

Written and researched by Kali Beutler

In 19th century England and France, many same-sex desiring people had to hide their relationships and sexual interests. Middle class and upper class white women were, or “should have been,” primarily focused upon status and marriage to a suitable man, and man to find a woman to share his life with, even if he was sleeping with the help. Youll see what I mean later!

Anyway, what this means is that society didn’t understand or accept women who had sex with other women. A woman’s social class was her form of virtue. Most were trapped by their circumstances; because of coverture, few were able to hold on to wealth or property on their own. But in the early 19th century, a woman named Anne Lister defied it all, and revealed in her journal entries what life was like as a woman loving woman in that time period. She got down and dirty, literally, in these journals, and they were a breath of fresh air for those that finally cracked her code and laid their eyes on her words almost 100 years later.

In this episode, we will talk about the life of Anne and those around her, in detail. This is necessary to explore how she impacted others. We will also discuss what the lives of lesbians in the 19th century were like, and how women hid their sexualities while at the same time defying the past interpretation of what a woman should be. We will also analyze how Lister’s diaries act as a cultural representation of her and her time.

I’m Kali, and I am your historian for this podcast on Anne Lister.

Before we begin, I want to say that there are a long list of sources to browse regarding the life of Anne Lister, too many to cover here. And some sources are outright wrong, as a television series was made about Anne called “Gentleman Jack”, and there are many discrepancies between her diaries, the show, and more. We will go over information from Helena Whitbread’s “No Priest But Love” and other sources from Whitbread, the discoverer of Anne’s journals herself, so we know it is as historically accurate as Anne wrote herself. So let’s do this.

Anne Lister was born in England in 1791, and lived through England’s involvement in the Napoleonic wars.

She was a rebellious woman ever since a young child. She noted in her diaries that even as a young woman of age 7, she was causing her family trouble by running around all over the place and doing exactly what they told her NOT to do, which is why she was sent to a dame school, or a manor house, in York, paid for by her aunt Anne. As a child, as she says, she “used to climb out of the bedroom window and go running into town, seeing wild women”.

As you’ll see, Anne showed this with every aspect of her life and even up until her death, defying her family, her numerous lovers, which was MANY, and English society.

In order to really examine Anne Lister and her impact as a lesbian diarist, we need to look at her life in detail.

Anne’s family life was rather all over the place. Her father, James Lister, was a soldier in the army during the Napoleonic wars. Her mother was Rebecca Battle Lister, and they had Anne three years into their marriage. Rebecca and James also had one other daughter, younger than Anne, and four sons, of differing ages. When Anne was 2, the family moved to an estate known as the Skelfler House, where she grew up. She frequently visited her Aunt and Uncle at their home, the Shibden estate. All four of her brothers never made it until the age of 20, and her mother died in 1817. Her uncle, the owner of the Shibden estate, passed away in 1826, her father in 1836, and her Aunt Anne in 1836 as well.

Anne, at the end of her life, had over 6,600 pages of journals. Her first journal simply read “Eliza left us.”, so let’s start at that. Eliza Raine was the first woman that Anne had ever had a relationship with, which started at the young age of 14 in that Dame school Anne was sent to.
At the beginning, their relationship wasn’t really questioned, as it was normal for girls to have crushes on other girls at that age. Intimacy between girls was almost expected in elite white social circles; they would spend the night together, hold hands, kiss, and dance together without so much as a second glance. Generally they would “grow out” of that behavior once they reached adulthood and got married to a man, but many married women maintained close intimate relationships with their friends and cousins thereafter. Particularly for rural elite white women, married life on an estate could be very isolating.

Eliza also kept a journal, and she and Anne invented their own code to record their affairs.

Anne eventually got kicked out of the dame school because of her relationship with Eliza. This relationship was doomed from the start, and Eliza was pronounced incurably insane later in her life.

After this, Anne went on a search for fulfillment through sexual love for other women. She realized that lesbian love was something that she wanted, and she needed someone to be with her.

Through Eliza, Anne met other people such as the Duffins, whom she stayed with frequently on trips, as well as the Norcliffe family, including their daughter Isabella, with whom Anne had another sexual relationship. Isabella, or Tib as Anne called her, was down for forever in this relationship, and Anne played along with this. They had an intimate relationship on and off for the rest of both of their lives, but it was nothing that Anne deemed worthy of commitment.

Isabella then introduced Anne to a woman named Mariana, and for most of her life, Mariana was Anne’s great love. She left Isabella for Mariana and they enjoyed time together for many years. They were deeply in love, and talked about marriage and living on an estate together.

However, this relationship was also doomed for being able to blossom into all that they had dreamed. Mariana married a wealthy enough man to keep her status, Charles Lawton, and Anne was heartbroken. She refused to be with “another man’s wife,” and so she wanted to wait until his early death to fully commit to Mariana. Of course, they still got together and had sex and dreamed about the big things to come when Charles died, but that never occurred. That never stopped Anne from hoping that it would. Through most of the rest of her life, Anne wore a ring given to her by Mariana as a wedding ring, a symbol that they would one day get married.

Anne, during her Mariana phase (and you’ll see why I call it her Mariana phase), somehow contracted a venereal disease, likely from oral sex with another woman. She attributed this in public to a dirty dresser (or something like that, I have no idea how people actually believed that, but then again, at the time, people didn’t yet understand germ theory or how diseases were contracted) and in private, she attributed it to secondhand contraction through Mariana’s husband. This venereal disease led Anne to travel to Paris from 1824 to 1826, where she met her next love, Maria Barlow.

During Anne’s time in Paris, Maria was the center of her world. Anne flirted with many women where she stayed, 24 place Vendome, such as Mille de Sans and Madame de Boyve, yet Maria took the cake in terms of love. They stayed together during the day and night so much, their relationship was starting to become public knowledge within the household just a few weeks into the affair.

Anne was in love with Barlow, but she did not want to commit to a relationship when Mariana’s husband’s death was still hoped for, and she felt as if Barlow was sucking her in.

Throughout their year of relationship together, Anne told Barlow almost everything. She was open about her previous relationship with Mariana, of course conveniently omitting their hopes that Mariana’s husband would die so that they could marry, and she was open about her feelings and her venereal disease.

From Anne’s journals, it was obvious that her relationship with Maria Barlow was extremely complex and full of emotion. There was gossip involved, anger and jealousy from both sides about Marianna and Annes relationship as well as a barrage of other things, contemplation about their future, and lots of sexual teasing.

Anyway, as Anne’s disease got worse, she saw a doctor in Paris, and ended up staying much longer than intended.

Anne convinced Maria to get a place on her own, along with her daughter Jane, and Anne moved in with them for a short while until her return to Shibden.

In January of 1826, Anne’s uncle James Lister died, and Anne became the sole proprieter of the Shibden estate since her 4 brothers had all died at a young age. This started a chapter in Annes life of estate management. Her town, Halifax, was on the cusp of its own Industrial Revolution, and estate expectations were moving towards technology.

Coalmining, shares of canals, and turnpike trusts made extra estate revenue, but the property was so small that little innovation was seen.

In terms of running the estate, Anne had a much tighter rein on her land than her uncle. She had intimate day to day involvement with her tenants when she was at the estate, and hired someone to run it when she was away.

In terms of money, she used little on philanthropy and focused on updating the estate, therefore securing its future.

Once Anne got home from Paris with her treatment from her doctor: baths, dieting and rubbing mercury on the affected areas (which is now proven to be extremely dangerous), she restarted her affair with Mariana. They enjoyed a relationship in secret, all while Anne was running the Shibden estate and Mariana was still married.

Previously, Mariana’s husband completely disapproved of them, and obviously knew what was going on. He was upset in his personal life, and had an affair with one of the wives of a servant on their estate, Lawton Hall. This goes back to the whole “sleeping with the help” thing I was saying! However, when Mariana was thinking about leaving Charles, Anne was extremely vocal in telling Charles that she would leave him if she wasn’t able to see Anne. Anne didn’t want the scandal of being with a woman who had left her husband, she wanted to wait until Charles died so they had a socially acceptable excuse to be together.

Needless to say, he was accepting and rather indifferent of their close “friendship” from then on, and they even travelled together as a group around Europe. This trip led Mariana to meet Mrs. Barlow, and tensions to ensue there. Mrs. Barlow made fun of Mariana and Anne as well, and she became rather emotional and a mess, begging Anne to leave Mariana and be with her instead. They stayed in Paris, and Mariana and Charles eventually left, leaving Anne with Mrs. Barlow once again. They had a half-hearted sexual relationship from then on, as Anne disliked Mrs Barlow for how needy she was being and how mean she was to Mariana, but still needed someone to be with.

In the winter of 1827 to 1828, Anne traveled back to Paris, meeting a woman named Madame de Rosny, which she moved in with under the guise of perfecting her French. Madame de Rosny was particularly sophisticated, and ran in higher aristocratic circles.

When she had gone back home, she objectively analyzed Mariana through the lens of a sophisticated women, and decided that Mariana was dull and too lowly for her after being with Madame de Rosny.

This was a huge turning point for Anne, as it released anne’s passion for Mariana from her young years, and she could set her sights on sophistication and running in higher circles from then on.

After the relationship with Madame de Rosny, Anne attempted to find a new lover, but her social elevation fell apart when her wealthy friends whom she got in with passed away.

Shibden hall once again took up her time, and in 1832 she met a very wealthy woman named Ann Walker.

Ann provided her with the financial stability that she needed, and they got married- Anne was the first woman to openly marry another woman in 1834 in England. They defined this marriage as receiving communion side by side at Holy Trinity church on Easter Sunday that year.

However, it was not a healthy relationship. According to Anne Lister’s diaries, her wife had neurotic tendencies. Lister described Walker as the type of person who would sit on the couch and complain that her clothes were the wrong color of yellow. Of course we have to take Anne Lister’s descriptions of all of her lovers with a grain of salt – who doesn’t complain about their sex partners in diaries or even text messages to friends?!

Ann Walker moved into Shibden hall in 1834, and they combined their fortunes. With this, Anne Lister engaged in updates to Shibden Hall, mostly based on the Gothic style of architecture that she had come to love in her travels.

In 1840, they went on Anne’s most exciting trip yet- traveling through the mountains of countries they considered “exoctic,” as far as modern-day Iraq. Anne Lister was the first white woman to climb both Monte Perdido and Vignemarle mountains.

But then Anne Lister caught a plague-like fever and died in the mountains in Russia, ending her journeys and subsequently, her journals.

Shortly after, Ann Walker was declared insane, and ended up in the same mental hospital as Anne Lister’s former lover, Eliza Raine.

To further understand Anne, it is important to talk about her characteristics and what she looked for in relationships.

Anne did not look like a typical woman.

As early as nineteen years old, Anne started to get noticed by the public for not being very feminine. She preferred not to dress in women’s clothes, and was remarked as looking like a man by strangers.

In 1817, Anne made the decision to start wearing black clothing. This came as a shock to her family, lovers and society, as the norm at the time was to wear white if you were a woman to show purity. No one really knows why this is: was it to defy the standards? Stay warm? Was it cheaper? Around her town of Halifax, she donned the nickname of “gentleman jack”.
Besides dress, Anne also didn’t behave like a woman. In 1823, when Mariana came to visit Shibden Hall, Anne walked from Shibden to the meeting location. This was considered extremely odd, as typically a woman (who would probably be wearing a corset and heavy skirts) would normally be driven. She certainly could have been driven, but she evidently enjoyed shocking people. In her diary she wrote, “Why did I say I walked from Shibden? Never saw John’s eyes so round with astonishment, the postboys, too” and “Why walk? Why not come in the gig?”

Anne steps outside of herself in this analysis, and sort of puts a self- check on her behavior in the eyes of others in public.

Though it sounds odd, Anne was also criticized for taking too large of strides, as it was common in the time for a woman to have short strides when she walked – again, a side effect of tight corsets, heavy skirts, and other fashion-induced movement restrictions. When Lister went to meet Marianna, she mounted three steps into the carriage, and Mariana was shocked at her unlady-like behavior. This set the tone for Mariana’s opinions on Anne’s masculinity, and it was a negative tone. Mariana was embarrassed to be seen with Anne in public, and, according to Lister, Mariana spent many nights crying about it.

To analyze Anne’s choices to write what she did in her journals and how that translates to the present, we must also analyze how she thought about her relationships.

Anne wasn’t typical in her thought process when getting into bed with another woman. It wasn’t just love. In her relationships, Anne was often conflicted between love, personal commitments, and a search for wealth and aristocracy.

As a businesswoman, socialite and scholar, Anne Lister had a disillusionment with aristocracy. From a young age, she set out to improve her status in life. She traveled by herself to several locations around the world, and focused on her studies, reading and perfecting her French in order to prepare herself for a wealthier lifestyle.

Anne desperately wanted to get into higher aristocratic circles, and determined that she could not do that by herself, as when she had higher aristocratic friends, they either passed away or her female friends became lovers rather than just means to an end of wealth and status.
Since she couldn’t do it by herself, she turned to dating to move upwards in society. This was her intention in her relationship with Madame de Rosny and Ann Walker, however unhappy these relationships may have been.

In relationships where aristocracy wasn’t a factor, it was always in the back of Lister’s mind. She was looking for a woman who was wealthy enough to merge their fortunes and have a nice home, as well to be recognized by other elites.

Maria Barlow and Mariana Belcombe could not satisfy Anne’s need for this, so no matter how much she loved them at the time, they would never be enough to satisfy that side of her. Lister always knew that, and frequently reflected on that in her diary entries.

At times, it seemed that Anne Lister always wanted what she couldn’t have. When she had a perfectly kind of fulfilling companion in Maria Barlow, Lister instead pined for Mariana. She wore Mariana’s wedding ring throughout the entirety of her relationship with Barlow relationship, and this caused great sorrow to Maria Barlow, but Lister apparently didn’t care.

Now you may be wondering what is so special about Anne Lister, and that is her diaries. Her diaries were a breathtaking chronicle of her same-sex desire, and her quest to find a wife and upward mobility, and she was extremely open in the diaries. She included every intimate detail of her life and lovemaking. Helena Whitbread, the first person to completely decode and publish Anne’s diaries, says “Anne Lister’s journals are particularly rich, not only because she put down details of her courtships kiss by kiss, thigh over thigh, but because she had a way with words: breathless excitement, raging jealousy, deep disappointments all spring off the page as vividly as when they were first experienced.” If that doesn’t explain why Anne’s situation was so special, I don’t know what will.

This included situations where she felt socially isolated like the incident with Mariana and the long strides, times when she felt powerful, her travels, her inner thoughts about the multiple relationships, and her sexual encounters. When recording the details of her relationships, she takes a very calculated, objective approach to writing about her life. She admits that her multiple relationships were a sign that she generally has problems with women, and that she was determined to get her way in the areas of wealth and aristocracy, even at the cost of love, evidenced by Ann Walker. It was obvious that Anne was an extremely reflective individual.
She actually chronicled her sexual encounters in detail, using the words of the time and other code words. This, today, has been regarded as a representation of the first modern day lesbian, and acts as an account of what lesbian life was like in that time.

However, these diaries had something even more special about them- they were written in code.
Lister use coded language – euphemism – as one might expect of a lady or gentleman of her time. In Anne’s time, a code word for something like an orgasm was the word “kiss”, leaving the reader with a much more innocent picture of what was actually going on in some of these scenes.
But more importantly, Lister also used an actual secret code. The secret code used was extremely complex, using a mix of numbers, symbols and Greek letters. She used her immense education to develop it, and it was hard to crack. She used this code, or crypt as she called it, for about a sixth of her entire diary.

Why use code, though? This code enabled Anne to keep a sense of privacy when divulging her innermost thoughts onto a page. Though technically sex between women wasn’t illegal the way that sex between men was, if there was a written record of her sexual encounters, she could have been prosecuted for impersonating a man, for sodomy, or any number of trumped up charges that the English used to police the sexual behavior of its citizens. She used her code for private matters, like sex, gossip, money and other private thoughts. I don’t even want to imagine how anyone felt when they first cracked the code and read the ahem- steamy moments of Anne’s life in striking details.

Anne took great comfort in her diaries and her crypt hand, as she knew it would never be cracked, and all her secrets would be safe. Well, she was VERY wrong. Around 1890, 40 years after Anne died, a descendant of hers named John Lister discovered her diaries and, after lots of work, broke her code. He read the diaries and made the decision to re-bury them. He was encouraged to burn them by his decoding partner Burrell, but John Lister was gay himself, and a part of me thinks that he wanted this history to be discovered someday, just not in an age where it could ruin his own social status. It was also decoded in the year that male homosexual acts were made illegal in England by the Blackmailers Charter, so that definitely could have been a part of it, as many people were looking for hereditary causes for homosexuality, and fingers would have been pointed at John.

In 1933, a relative of a Halifax librarian found the journals and decoded them again.
Additionally, in the 1960s, a man named Ramsden decoded the diaries, only to be pressured to ignore the coded part by the Halifax town council. One scholar, Muriel Green, suggests that not talking about the contents of the diaries—which apparently the entire town know about—was a form of cultural and social censorship.

The diaries finally got to see the light of day again years later, when they were donated to a library and a woman named Helena Whitbread picked them up in 1980 for a research project, and spent five years decoding them.

Kind of weird to think about reading diaries that the woman never wanted to see the light of day. I sure wouldn’t want my diaries from when I was young read by a bunch of strangers. It beckons me to think how she would feel, as the secretiveness of her diaries contributed greatly to her mental health.

Anyway…Immediately, Helena knew the worth of what she had just read. Anne’s journals were the first account of a modern-day lesbian, and offered huge amounts of insight into relationships and the social situation at the time. These diaries are also an astounding representation of LGBTQIA+ censorship, as they were hidden for so long, and they only came out in an era that was ready and modern enough to accept them, because She expressed her feelings about men and women in her diary entry for Monday, 29 January 1821: ‘Burnt Mr Montagu’s farewell verses that no trace of any man’s admiration may remain. It is not meet for me. I love and only love the fairer sex and thus, beloved by them in turn, my heart revolts from any other love than theirs.’

The code in Anne’s journals was a huge indicator of what the social standards in 19th century England were at the time. Why would Anne record her sex in private? Why would she put it in code it if the journals were private anyway? Society and its social standards, that was why.
Lesbian life in Anne’s time was complicated. Anne’s relationships in her own life were an extremely well-kept secret, and only chronicled highly in her diaries. Other people had suspicions of her identity, such as her family and those at 24 Place Vendome when she was with Mrs. Barlow. Otherwise, it was not discovered until over 100 years after her death.

One of the reasons why Anne was suspected of being a lesbian was the style of dress and attitude she had, as we discussed earlier. If she’d been living in the 1950s, she might be known as a “butch” lesbian by her manly dress. It was even said that she liked to work in the fields of Shibden Hall, unlike any other woman of her station at the time. However, she tried her best to tone down this side of her.

Other same-sex desiring women of the time were likely just as secretive with their lifestyles. All of Anne’s lovers his their desire in a multitude of ways. They dressed like the other women of the time, and Mariana actually got upset at Anne for dressing differently, an indicator of how strict the societal rules were of the period. Mariana even married a man, despite her clear life-long love for Anne Lister.

Anne Lister was certainly not typical of same-sex desiring women in the 19th century. She was a landowner, which was extremely uncommon for her time, and this contributed heavily to her ability to act and dress in more masculine ways, and to take on the duties of running the business side of the household rather than the housekeeping. Having grown up with brothers who had all passed away before the age of 20, she inherited the Shibden estate and was head of the household, which was extremely rare in the era of couverture. And to protect her and her family’s estate interests, she had to be tighter on the reins to prove that she was tough and capable.

Lister was also a lot more vocal about her identity than most of her time. She expressed to her lovers that she had a sort of nonchalance about what people had said about her, and she wore her black clothing and had long strides without a care in the world, aside from some occasional sad reflection about her state of being. Sure, it caused her to feel low sometimes, especially when Mariana felt the need to comment upon it, but it didn’t stop her from portraying herself that way.
Anne was the type of woman who got what she wanted, and was vocal to her partners about her sexuality, multiple partners, and every aspect of her life.

There was obviously a reason in that time period why so many of Anne’s lovers loved her while also marrying men, because they were scared of social isolation.

Anne was lucky, as in her life, she was held to a generally high standard of respect in all of her relationships and in her family, even those who knew her sexual partners. This may be attributed to her competence, but it also may have been because Lister hid it so well, even in her journals.
Others, such as Ann Walker and Mariana, were heavily dependent on the social structure of society to sustain them and their titles. Mariana was afraid of losing her status by being seen with a woman who was so masculine, and she repeatedly expressed that to Lister.

Ann Walker was also a victim of social isolation. When Ann Walker married Lister in 1834 and moved into the Shibden estate, Walker’s family was shocked and upset about it.

Of course, as evidenced by her diaries, Lister DEFINITELY was not the only same-sex desiring woman of her time, and not even the only one to try to lead her own life. But none were as open as she.

In that time, words like “Sappho” and “tribade” were among many used for women who had or were suspected of having sex with other women, and they were all intended to be offensive. Society wasn’t very friendly or inclusive of same sex relationships.

Same-sex sex was not decriminalized in England until 1967, well after many generations of homosexual relationships had passed.

If a relationship was out in the open, it was not societally accepted. How was this worked around by Anne and women like her of the time?

As mentioned before, Anne was very open in her relationships in her diary, and in private. She was able to circumvent the discovery of her sexuality, yet live it super vividly. How did she do it?

First of all, in history, there is a magical term called “friendship” that was used within same-sex sexual relationships to cover up what was really going on. Particularly with Mariana, in her journals, Lister emphasized that the reason they got to spend so much time together is that they were “close friends”. This is also why Anne was waiting on the early death of Charles, Mariana’s husband. This way, if he died early, Anne could move in with Mariana under the guise of being a friend who was comforting a grieving widow.

This romantic friendship was the path for upper class women, as it allowed them to have a public physical and emotional relationship, and blocked rumors of a sexual one, especially for Anne. This was her main mode of circumvention, especially because the other women she had relationships with were so hell bent on maintaining their social status, to the point of marrying and considering marrying others.

As noted before, Anne never married a man. Marriage, for Anne, was a reminder of her exclusion from normal methods of belonging in her society. She never married a man because she simply didn’t want to, and she couldn’t stand having that label put on her, and yet being an estate owner and a masculine woman shielded her from any large backlash.

Another mode of circumvention used by Lister was nonchalance and lack of intimacy in public, but as much intimacy as she wanted in private. Her journals chronicle her lovers often coming to her room, or she going to theirs, to engage in matters at night with no one else knowing.
Same-sex desiring women of the time, in public and in private, often went outside the bounds of what they should do, be, or look like in that times.

Anne defied misogynistic conventions created for women in her time, and even reaching into today.

Anne has been coined with the name “the first “modern” lesbian”, so what exactly does this mean? Anne lived her life in a way that more closely resembles a lesbian in 2020 than a even a typical same-sex desiring woman in1820.

Being a lesbian, according to researcher Chris Roulston, has always been associated with hiding and writing in code.

The factor of shame also comes into play in Anne’s relations to the present. Anne was put in a transition phase by the shame of her existence. She was masculine when she was supposed to be feminine, she rebelled when she was supposed to conform, she was alienated by Mariana when she wanted belonging, and so much more. She was ashamed of all of this and rather contemplative about her stance in life, and many individuals in the modern day are still experiencing this model of shame that has spanned generations. These individuals both want to be free of conventional norms and belong to a group that accepts them simultaneously.
Lister’s own understanding of her life, according to Roulston, was a mix of shame and “un-shame” of sorts, as she wrote some of her diaries in code when she was embarrassed, and wrote other parts in extremely detailed fashions.

The shame Lister experienced is also evidenced in her diaries, and the fact that it took over 150 years for the actual diaries to come to light. John Lister and Burrell, each discovered them in turn, decoded them, and then put them back into hiding. Society was not ready for her diaries in 1890, or 1930.

Scholars content that Anne is the first “modern lesbian” because, more than anything else, of her self-awareness. Whereas most same-sex desiring women like her conformed to the gender and sexual expectations for women at the time – marrying men, having children, and the such – Anne Lister rejected a sexual identity formed around a relationship with a man. She forged her own path, in a way that was almost conscious of what we today call a lesbian identity. She sought to understand herself and her desire in a reflective manner.

A quote used in an analysis of Anne strikes me: “What is most modern about Anne Lister is the way in which her diaries expose the deceptive nature of modernity itself.”

Overall, Anne Lister is one to be revered. She chronicled every aspect of her life in her journals. She lived as open of a “lesbian” lifestyle as she could, and gave insight into what the lives of other lesbians at the time looked like. She also provided a pathway for analysis of social standards at the time, as well as the ways same-sex desiring women had relationships and hid them. Anne shows us how she and women like her in the 19th century defy societal and misogynistic conventions, and combine the past, present and future.

She also showed us how writing a diary of your life can be difficult. It made Anne realize the gaps in her life, but it also showed her that she was much more analytic and intelligent than many gave her credit for.

But I think the main thing it shows us is that if you have a diary, and even if you write it in code, someone will still find it, and they probably won’t publish it unless your life is as interesting as hers!

Thank you for listening, I hope you had as much fun listening to this as I had learning about it!


Ed. Helena Whitbread, No Priest But Love: The Journals of Anne Lister From 1824-1826 (New York: NYU Press, 1993)

Chris Roulston, “The Revolting Anne Lister: The U.K.’s First Modern Lesbian,” Journal of Lesbian Studies, Volume 17, 2013 – Issue 3-4, 267-278.

Christina Hardyment, “BOOK REVIEW / Kiss-by-kiss account of a Sapphic Casanova: ‘No Priest but Love’ – Anne Lister, Ed. Helena Whitbread,” The Independent, available at https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/book-review-kiss-by-kiss-account-of-a-sapphic-casanova-no-priest-but-love-anne-lister-ed-helena-1470635.html

Helen Natasha Moore and Sherry Thomas, “Anne Lister,” https://www.annelister.co.uk

“Anne Lister,” York Civic Trust, https://yorkcivictrust.co.uk/heritage/civic-trust-plaques/anne-lister-1791-1840/

“Anne Lister Timeline,” https://www.annelistertimeline.com

“The Real Diaries of Anne Lister,” BBC ONE https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3QT2z16RXhfxSDn1mrbRNVp/the-real-diaries-of-anne-lister


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