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All about Anne
"You are Miss Lister of Shibden Hall!"

Books and theses about Anne

This isn't a complete list, as Ι (obviously) haven't read everything written about Anne. Nor do Ι attempt to make qualitative comments on the analyses presented (Ι'm not qualified to do so). Ι do hope that this page helps people decide which works they might or might not decide to read.

Although the diaries had been partially read and decoded before Helena Whitbread and then Jill Liddington published their first books on Anne (in 1988 & 1994 respectively), most of the sexually revealing content had been suppressed - either by the authors themselves, or by various Halifax authorities. So it is to Whitbread and Liddington that we owe an enormous debt for introducing the real Anne Lister to us - if it's possible to ever know the "real" Anne.

Ι've added a list of Errata for each book. These simply indicate where Ι have found what Ι feel to be inaccurate or inconsistent points. They are mostly trivial and open to discussion; of course, Ι'm just as likely to be wrong. It's just my inner pedant making itself known.

Helena Whitbread

The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister: Vol .1 - Ι Know My Own Heart (1988)

This is the first publication to reveal the explicit content of the diaries, and the book that brought Anne Lister to the attention of the public. The book is the result of at least five years' research & transcription by Whitbread; it's a stunning achievement, considering that she was working with photo-copies and (probably) primitive word-processors.

Covers the period from 14 August 1816 (diaries from February 1810 to this date are mostly missing) until 23 August 1824. It starts with Anne accompanying Mariana on her extended honeymoon, and ends as Anne is preparing to make her months-long trip to Paris, where she will meet Mrs Barlow.

During this period (1816 - 1824) Anne's relationships with Mariana and Isabella Norcliffe continue, along with the infatuation with Miss Browne. None of this prevented Anne from seducing, and then dropping, Anne "Nantz" Belcombe, Mariana's elder sister. Or from "flirting" with yet another sister, Mrs (Harriet) Milne. Or from "making up to" the youngest sister, Eliza ("Eli"). During a stay at Langton Hall (the Norcliffe family home) in 1823 Anne seems to have had sex with Isabella, Nantz and a new - if temporary - interest, Miss (Mary) Vallance.

It was on 12 June 1821 that 18-year-old Ann chased after Anne: "It was on the Lightcliffe Road. Ι spotted you and raced after you. To invite you to tea. And afterwards Ι thought how foolish. And silly. Ι must've seemed to you".

The "Blackstone Edge" incident and the subsequent fallout at Scarborough occurred in August/September 1823.

1. Whitbread has Anne staying with the Duffins at "Red House". While there is a Red House in York (Duncombe Place) dating from the 18th century, Ι don't think that it is Red House referred to in the diaries. Whitbread writes: "On Saturday 21 November [1818], Anne left Market Weighton for York where she stayed with the Duffins at Red House", while the diary entry for the same day reads: "Got into Micklegate about 20 minutes after 9 - the Duffins very glad to see me". Ι think that Patricia Hughes got it right: she has Red House as the Duffins' country house in Nun Monckton, just outside York. The Duffins lived at 58 Micklegate.
2. The inn at the top of Blackstone Edge that Anne was about to enter when she saw Mariana's carriage is identified as the White Horse; it's actually the White House. (It's possible that this error was introduced as part of the digitisation process.)

The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister: Vol .2 - No Priest But Love (1992)

This second volume covers Anne's diaries from September 1824 until the end of 1826, by which time her uncle James had died and Shibden was hers, even if her father and aunt still had an interest.

1. "Mariana" becomes "Marianna" in this volume. Ι don't know if either is correct. Her marriage entry can be found here. She signs her name "Mariana Piercy Belcombe". Confusingly, the name above her signature has been changed to "Marianne Piercy Belcombe". Her burial record gives her name as "Marianna Percy Lawton"; the inscription on the grave: "Sacred to the memory of Mariana Percy". Mariana's mother is remembered as "Mariana Belcombe" on a tablet in St Michael le Belfrey, York; she may have been named after her mother. It should be remembered, however, that all this is long before the 1880 Education Act - illiteracy was common and spelling was fluid.
2. Again, Whitbread has the Duffins at Red House, York, and Miss Marsh (Mrs Duffin's companion and later Mr Duffin's wife) is placed in lodgings at 58 Micklegate. Miss Marsh did have lodgings near the Duffins, but it was the Duffins who lived at 58 Micklegate.

Jill Liddington

Nature's Domain: Anne Lister and the Landscape of Desire (2003)

This is the third of Liddington's books on Anne Lister, and probably the most interesting to Gentleman Jack fans as it covers the period from the end Anne's time in Hastings with Vere Hobart (April 15 - May 7) and then to the end of 1832, focussing on the relationship with Ann Walker. According to Liddington she has transcribed about 25,000 of the approximately 170,000 diary words of this eight-and-a-half-month period - Ι can't imagine how long it must have taken.

Presenting the Past: Anne Lister of Halifax, 1791-1840 (1994)

This first book by Liddington is a series of connected essays that provide an overview of Anne Lister, her biographers, and of course the diaries - although relatively little transcribed text is presented. It's a very short book - the paperback edition is only 76 pages. The diary periods coverd are 1806-1810, 1819 and 1832. 1832 is, of course, examined in much greater detail in Nature's Domain.

Female Fortune: The Anne Lister Diaries and Other Writings 1833-36: Land, Gender and Authority (1997)

As there is no Kindle edition Ι have not read this (yet).
Goodreads provides the following: The extensive appraisal of Anne Lister's life and the themes drawn from the diaries make Female Fortune required reading for anyone engaged in current feminist analysis. It is an important text for students of women's studies, gender studies. social and cultural history, and lesbian and gay studies.

Anne Choma

Gentleman Jack - The Real Anne Lister (2019)

Billed (in the UK) as "The Official Companion to the BBC Series", this book is much more than that. It doesn't follow the GJ story line, but is an in-depth examination of the Vere Hobart/Ann Walker era of Anne's diaries, opening at Hastings on November 5, 1831 and closing on the day of her marriage, March 30, 1834. There's lots of background information, and very creditable commentary. If you're interested in the Gentleman Jack period of Anne's life, this may be all you need.

1. Perhaps overly pedantic, but there's a mistake on page 1, chapter 1: "...she started by unpacking some of her extensive library of books, among them Mary Shelley's Frankenstein..." - Anne actually borrowed Frankenstein from the local Hastings library: "...back at the library Memoirs of Josephine & Frankenstein the 1st 2 volumes..." (27-Oct-1831).
2. Anne Choma has Anne, Eugenie & Thomas disembarking at Gravesend on their way home from Copenhagen. Ι don't believe this to be the case, and am sure they must have disembarked in London. See my GJ episode 8 review.

Page updated 15-Aug-2020