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The women Anne loved
"William Bell. Our groom. Said he could swear blind... it was Mr. Rawson himself"

Grand Passions

Perhaps the most famous coded line from the diaries is this:
Ι love and only love the fairer sex
and thus beloved by them my heart recoils from any love than theirs
Even if she wasn't quite as promiscuous as some articles have claimed (for example The Sun, 21 May 2019: "The REAL Gentleman Jack who bedded hundreds of women"), Anne was clearly an active, perhaps even predatory, pursuer of women.

Anne's sexuality has been much examined and analysed; Ι don't intend to add to that body of work here

Eliza Raine - "the most beautiful girl Ι ever saw"

Like Anne, Eliza Raine was born in 1791; they met at the Manor School, York, in 1804, when they were 12 or 13. Eliza was the daughter of an East India Company surgeon, one of two daughters born to his Indian wife. In 1800 James Raine became seriously ill, and left his wife and daughters to return to England, having made provision for them in his will before he left. He died before reaching home. An East India Company colleague, William Duffin of York, became one of Raine's trustees. On hearing of the Raine girls' situation, he sailed for India in order to bring Eliza and her elder sister Jane to England, and they arrived in 1802. After two years in a London school, both girls moved to York under the Duffins' guardianship. At the beginning of 1804 both started at the Manor School; Jane living with the Duffins and Eliza a boarder at school.

Anne had been given a room of her own at the top of the building - possibly because she was considered too disruptive to share a dormitory with the other girls. Eliza, although well educated and ladylike, was a problem for the school: she was of mixed race with dark skin, an orphan, and, under English law, illegitimate, as her parents' marriage had not been registered outside of India. The two difficult girls shared a room, and a bed. The relationship soon turned sexual, and before 1804 was over they had pledged themselves to each other as husband and wife.

In 1806 Anne left the Manor School - whether she was expelled or left for other reasons is not certain. It has been suggested that she had to leave because of her relationship with Eliza; in any case she returned after Eliza had finished her studies. Eliza spent the summer of 1806 with Anne in Halifax, returning to York on 11 August. She returned to Halifax in 1808, spending the summer with the Listers again. Both girls' diary entries suggest that the summer was happy, but after Eliza returned to York in November, Anne was turning noticeable cooler towards Eliza. Eliza's feelings, however, had not changed, writing: "How my heart throbs for thee. Here Ι turn my eyes to my bed. This Ι hope after a few years... you will share with me". "after a few years" is a reference to the fact that Anne had already put off their living together for ten years.

Anne's brother John died of influenza in Halifax in January 1810. Eliza had left the Manor School at the end of the previous year, and Anne arranged to return, living in Eliza's room at the Duffins in York. Eliza wnet to live with her cousin, a Lady Crawfurd, in Doncaster. Eliza and her cousin did not get on; this only made the pain of separation from Anne worse. In a letter in May Eliza writes to Anne mentioning a "Miss Norcliffe". This is Isabella Norcliffe, a new friend Anne had met in York; the meeting marks the beginning of the end of Anne & Eliza's intimate relationship.

From about this time onwards Eliza's life seems to spiral out of control. She turned down - at Anne's request - an offer of marriage from an eligible naval officer, Captain John Aleaxnder of Halifax. She gradually bcame more and more irrascible, falling out with various people in her social circle. She particularly took against Miss Marsh (who would become the second Mrs Duffin), eventually falling out with the Mr Duffin himself. In 1813 Anne's brother Sam drowned in Ireland: Eliza had been very close to him and his death affected her relationship with Anne's family in Halifax. Anne became more and more distant as she pursued her connections with Isabella Norcliffe and Mariana Belcombe; Eliza became isolated and felt completely betrayed by Anne. From the end of 1814 and through 1815 her mental state declined; she was admitted several times to Dr Belcombe's (Mariana's father) asylum.

In 1816 Eliza was permanently committed to Dr Belcombe's asylum. Anne continued to visit her intermittently until her death in 1840.

The Belcombes' asylum closed in 1853 when the younger Dr Belcombe, Mariana's brother, retired. Eliza was moved to a house in the village of Osbaldwick with her nurse. She died there in 1860, without friends or relatives.


Isabella Norcliffe - "two Jacks would not suit together"

Isabella was born on 9 November 1785. Her father inherited Langton Hall, near Malton in Yorkshire in 1807; Anne was a regular visitor there. Anne often refers to Isabella as "Tib" in the diaries.

Ι'm not sure when Anne first met Isabella: it has been suggested that she was a pupil at the Manor School with Anne, but as she was six years older there has to be some doubt. A letter from Eliza to Anne dated 18 May 1810 is the first reference Ι have: "Ι am delighted to hear you have got so pleasant a companion as Miss Norcliffe" [Patricia Hughes]. In May 1810 Isabella would have been 24, which is old for a 19th-century upper-class woman to still be at school. The Norcliffes had a house in Petergate[1], so they probably met in York.
At Christmas 1810 Anne wrote to Isabella: "Perhaps my dear girl at this moment whilst my thoughts are all yours, you are gaily winding through the mazes of the dance, or led by some stupid senseless coxcomb gasping for breath among the careless crowd." (Helena Whitbread, blog). This could indicate that their relationship had become intimate; "stupid senseless coxcomb" could be a reference to their shared sexual preference.

Isabella, like Anne, apparently had a masculine manner. Anne recorded a conversation with Mariana Belcombe at Shibden: "Mr Lally had been visiting at Moreton last September and said he would as soon turn a man loose in his house as me - as for Miss Norcliffe, two jacks would not suit together" (12 Sep 1825). Obviously both Anne and Tib already had a reputation.

Anne and Isabella's's relationship was interrupted when Anne fell in love with Mariana Belcombe, although she would continue to see (and have sex with) Isabella after Mariana's marriage. The 1826 Valentine's Day diary entry is heart-wrenching: "a kiss last night of Isabella - perhaps Ι may never have another" (14 February 1826)[2].

Tib outlived Anne and died, unmarried, on 11 May 1846.


Mariana Belcombe - the love of her life

Mariana was a friend of Isabella Norcliffe - both families had houses in Petergate, York. Either Mariana was at the Manor School, or - perhaps more likely - Isabella Norcliffe introduced her to Anne at Langton Hall[3]; they had definitely met by July 1810[4].

We meet Mariana in episode 1 of GJ: "all the usual sleeping arrangements". By 1832 she has been married to Charles Lawton[5] for 16 years, having broken Anne's heart "for a carriage and a jointure". The marriage is not happy and Mariana has not been able to provide Charles with the heir he wants. Charles is nearly 20 years older than Mariana: initially she and Anne planned to live together after Charles' expected early death. Charles, however, lives to be 89, outliving Anne by nearly 20 years.

In 1821, during a visit to Steph Belcombe in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Anne and Mariana considered themselves to be married: "We talked all last night and only closed our eyes to dose[sic] about half hour just before getting up. Went to Mariana but somehow did not manage a good kiss - refused to promise till Ι had really felt that she was my wife. Went to her a second time, succeeded better and then bound ourselves to each other by an irrevocable prom[is]e forever - in pledge of which turned on her finger the gold ring Ι gave her several years ago and also her wedding ring which had not been moved off her finger ever since her marriage. She seems devoted to me and Ι can and shall trust her now". Anne then refers back to her diary entry of the 14th and a letter from Mariana: "Her indisposition arises from her having a fright about a fortnight ago by being thrown from her horse in Newcastle - 'had been taken unwell the day before and it produced a stoppage of the right thing and ever since Ι have had a discharge which makes me uneasy and sometimes very uncomfortable but Ι have no pain'" - which leads Anne to wonder "it has occurred to me, can Charles have given her a venereal affectioninfection??" Mariana has caught some sort of venereal disease - presumably from Charles - and Anne later realises that Mariana has passed it on to her. The coded entry continues: "Left to ourselves perhaps an hour this morning, mutually most affectionate said how much happier Ι felt to have lost my liberty than Ι should to have kept it etc. etc." (23-Jul-1821).

Anne and Mariana have sex every day until Mariana leaves Newcastle-under-Lyme for Lawton: "Two last night or three. Mariana and Ι seize eevery[sic] moment we are left alone together to assure eeach[sic] other and talk of days to come... Sat up lovemaking. Mariana loves and seems devoted to me eentirely[sic] and my heart is thoroughly hers" (24-Jul-1821) --- "Two last night" (25-Jul-1821) --- "Two last night" (26-Jul-1821) --- "In spite of my cousinperiod's appearance last night just at bedtime, we both being excited as we sat talking at my dressing table, undressed and got into bed before my hair was curled and had two good kisses, both together - that is without having separated. Had a quarter hour's nap. Ι then left Mariana in bed and got up and curled [my hair] and on returning to her had another good kiss" (27-Jul-1821) --- "Three last night - one after another without once separating" (28-Jul-1821) --- "Two last night" (29-Jul-1821).

After the idyllic days spent together "Ι do feel wedded to her now and my mind is ssettled[sic] and satisfied. The thought quickens my pulse and Ι feel at this moment that she is and ever has been and ever will be the only real obiect of my love" (2-Aug-1821). Her fear that Mariana may have been infected by Charles, however, is realised: "Feel a queer, hot-ish, itching sensation tonight about the pudendum" (3-Aug-1821). Anne's condition would continue to cause Anne distress for several years, and one of the reasons for her 1825 trip to Paris was to seek a cure. She subsequently passed the infection on to Isabella Norcliffe and, possibly, Ann.

Despite having comitted themselves to each other, with time it seems that Mariana became more settled in her rôle as Mrs Lawton and as Anne became better travelled she began to find Mariana less appealing. In 1823 the "Blackstone Edge" and "Scarborough" incidents occurred: On 19 August Anne walked some ten and a half miles from Shibden along the Rochdale road eager to meet Mariana on her way to Halifax from her marital home in Cheshire. At the top of Blackstone Edge she met Mariana's carriage and leapt on board, seeming "to have taken 3 steps at once"[6]. Mariana was "horror-struck" and mortified by Anne's dishevelled appearance and extraordinary behaviour; her reaction deeply hurt Anne. The following month Anne travelled to Scarborough - then a fashionable spa town - with Mariana and two of the other Belcombe sisters. Here Mariana was ashamed to be seen with Anne because of her masculine behaviour and unfeminine appearance. Both incidents are referred to in episode 7 of GJ; Mariana: "Let's talk about Blackstone Edge! And Scarborough! Do you know what miseries, what agonies, Ι went through? Being seen with you, the way you used to look, the way you used to dress!? Everyone whispering behind your back about how... masculine you were! Ι was snubbed too! Just for being seen with you!". Anne never forgot Blackstone Edge or Scarborough.

As per GJ, Anne and Mariana continued their on-off sexual relationship up until Anne committed herself to Ann.


Miss Brown - "Kallista"

Maria Brown was a local 23-year-old woman (b. Feb 4, 1794), who was from, in Anne's view, a socially inferior family: on the important subject of "calling", Anne writes "besides, she would recollect it is my place too offer the thing, not hers to ask it". This social difference would have been both an advantage and a disadvantage to Anne: Miss Browne would presumably have welcomed the attention from one of the Halifax elite, while public gaze would question why someone like Anne would spend so much time with someone like Maria Brown. Although the relationship was (and ultimately remained) platonic, Anne dedicated a lot of diary space to "Kallista" from 1817 until 1819. Anne was 26 and so only three years older than Miss Brown when they met. It seems that Kallista was never really more than a fantasy for Anne, and she didn't actually intend to seduce her.

Anne became infatuated with Miss Brown (sometimes "Browne" in the diary) in August 1817 after meeting her at scientific lectures in Halifax. The first mention is on the 27th: "Went to the lecture at 7. Having all the 4 preceeding nights admired Miss Brown, daughter of Mr Copley Brown of West Field or West Cottage, sat just before her - handed her several things to look at & contrived to get into conversation with her after the lecture was over - the lecture being longer than usual, & staying a good while afterwards, to look at the apparatus or rather at Miss Brown, did not get home till near 11" (26-Aug-1817).

Miss Brown appears in Anne's life at a point when she's still very much conflicted by her feelings for both Isabella Norcliffe and the newly-married Mariana, as the previous day's coded entry indicates: "In the morning and part of the afternoon got nearly to the bottom of the third page of my letter to Isabella. What a labour! For fear of saying too much Ι nkow[sic]know not what to say and now such gets my trembling confidence in Mariana that Ι begin to feel some difficulty even in writing to her. Ι have not made use of consonantsdoes she mean "consonance"? in my two last letters nor have Ι said anything particularly affectionate. What will be my fate between these two? At last perhaps Ι shall ultimately have neither of them - Ι should be much happier if Ι could really feel settled in a choice that was in every respect advisable" (27-Aug-1817).

But Anne's obviously taken by her - and sees the risk: "Did nothing but dream of Miss Brown and though Ι awoke at six yet had not resolution to get up but lay dosing[sic] and thinking of the fair charmer - she is certainly very pretty. She seemed evidently not displeased with my attention and Ι felt all possible inclination to be as foolish as Ι ever was in former days - in fact Ι shall be much better out of the way of the lovely Maria (for such is her name) than in it" (28-Aug-1817).

The next day Anne's a little more introspective: "Got to the lecture a little after 7 & got home again a little before 10. Sat directly behind Miss Brown, & talked to her 10 minutes after the lecture was over - Ι begin to fancy, if Ι was to see more Ι should think less of her. Indeed Ι am very luckily recovering my senses about - she eevidently[sic] seems flattered by my notice and well she may for Ι do not notice anyone eelse[sic] much - Ι wonder what Miss Sarah Stavely would think? Ι asked her who Miss Brown was the first lecture night and admired her beauty last night - she saw me in such attentive conversation with her that tho' she (Miss S) came up to me Ι only just asked her how she did. Attention to Miss B has been pointed these two last nights - Ι wonder if anyone has observed it" (29-Aug-1817).

It's not until the following April that Anne mentions Maria Brown again. She may have been away from Halifax, and both Anne's mother and uncle Joseph died during the intervening period. Anne has engineered a meeting with Miss Browne at the Greenwoods: "Miss Brown, & her 2 friends, the Miss Kellys from Glasgow arrived in about an hour... Considering her situation in life, Miss B- is wonderful - handsome, or rather, interesting, gentle in her manners, entirely free from any sort of affectation, & much more lady-like than any girl Ι have seen hereabouts - From conversation Ι made out she is 23 & her sister 17. Ι wonder what she thinks of me - my attention to her is certainly sufficiently marked to attract her notice. Is she flattered? - Ι think she is. Ι have thought of her all the way home, of writing to her anonymously and (as she said when Ι asked her if she liked Lord Byron's poetry, "Yes, perhaps too well"), of sending her a Cornelian heart with a copy of his lines on this ssubject[sic].[7] Ι could soon be in love with the girl" (29-Apr-1818).

And she's still on her mind the next morning: "Ι awoke at 5 but lay dozing and dreaming and thinking of Miss Brown, contriving how to send her Lord Byron's new dramatic poem accompanied by a note containing merely 'Do you like Lord Byron's poetry?' - 'Yes, perhaps too well'. That is exactly my question and her answer yesterday. It seems my admiration of the ladies is far from being really extinct: it slumbers a little while Ι am quite out of their way but revives the instant we come in contact. Perhaps it is lucky that Ι can have so little oportunity[sic] of meeting with this girl" (30-Apr-1818).

"Kallista" first appears in June: Walked from church with Miss Brown as far as the new church parsonage then wished gook[sic] night and turned down the lane leading to Barum Top - offered Mrs[sic] B (Kallista as Ι shall call her) my arm at the bottom of Horton Street and we two walked together" (14-Jun-1818).

Ι think it's worth speculating on why Anne chose to call the object of her desire "Kallista"; again, Ι defer to the experts, in this case Helena Whitbread and Anna Clark:
"Kallista or Callista derives from Callisto from the Greek, meaning 'most beautiful'. Anna Clark, in her article, 'Anne Lister's Construction of Lesbian Identity', Journal of the History of Sexuality, volume 7, number 1, July 1996 (pp.41-50), relates Anne's choice of this name to '... the myth, retold by Ovid, of the nymph Callisto, beloved of Diana, chaste leader of the hunt, who rejected male company. When Callisto rests while hunting, Jove comes upon her, and in order to seduce her, disguises himself as Diana. When Callisto becomes prgnant, Diana turns her into a bear in disgust and anger at her betrayal. If Miss Browne was Callisto, who did Anne see herself: Jove or Diana, or one in the disguise of the other? As Jove, Anne could inflame her fantasises of "taking" lower-class women in a masculine disguise. As Diana, Anne dould imagine a comradeship of free, virginal young women hunting and loving in the forest and identify with her rage when Jove raped Callisto, just as she resented the marriages of the young women she admired.'"[8]

References to Miss Brown continue to appear in the diary, and, as usual, Anne's conflicted: "Ι don't think quit[e] so much of Miss Brown but still too much" (28-Jun-1818). "Think of going to Pye Nest tomorrow after church on purpose to walk with Miss Brown" (5-Aug-1818), which she does, but the same evening "thought the matter seriously over - lamented - prayed God to have mercy on me and to help me and resolved never more to mention Miss B and to avoid her entirely for the last time" ...maybe just once more... "Ι will allow myself to try to meet her tomorrow" (6-Aug-1818). But Anne's resolve is no match for Kallista: "How changed since last night when when[sic] Ι declared to seek after the girl only once more. This once has done the business. Ι like her and this morning's walk and having got her to meet me tomorrow have certainly made me - shall Ι call it happier? - than Ι was before. At any rate she does not shew any antipathy to my attentions" (7-Aug-1818). "This meeting with Miss B seems to have stimulated and roused me alto[ge]ther - Ι cannot live happily without female society, without someone to interest me" (8-Aug-1818).

A few days later rain forces them into an inn, giving Anne an opportunity to get a little closer: "Ι told her her gown sleeves were rather too wide and that her frill was not put on straight. Ι took it off and put it on again taking three trials to it before Ι woul[d] be satisfied. She did not seem to dislike the thing nor to be unhappy in my society. Ι think if Ι choose to persevere Ι can bring to what terms Ι please... We shook hands at parting and she kept my hand some seconds - she certainly likes me. Ι observed however while at the inn that she had dirty nails and that her gown sleeves were not lined and she had no loose sleeves on. Is she very tidy? But she is pretty and Ι thought of what Ι should not" (15-Aug-1818).

By 1819 Miss Brown has become engaged to a "Mr Kelly of Glasgow": "She told me Ι was the only one in Halifax to whom she woul[d] have mentioned the present case, but she is in love it seems and this gives me little hope of making much impression on her in the amatory way - besides, Ι have not enough opportunity and dare not make any serious or tempting offer. This would never do for me - besides, my penchant is of a lighter nature" (30-Jan-1819).

Helena Whitbread writes that from about March 1819 "Anne's interest in Miss Browne dwindled. The marriage between Miss Browne and Mr Kelly did indeed take place on 28 September 1820. The rerefences to her grow less and less frequent as the time approached".[9] Anne's interest has not quite died, and the "kissing gate" scene we see in The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister (the film) happens in August. Isabella Norcliffe ("Tib") is staying at Shibden and Anne has invited several locals for the evening: "Just before we came in from the garden contrived to be a few moments with only Tib and Kallista. The former gave me a kiss and Ι made it an excuse to kiss Kallista on her lips a very little moistly - she looked shame-faced. Were a few minutes afterwards, us three, in the hall - Kallista said kissing was an odd thing and people made quere[sic] remarks about it. 'These,' said I, 'we none of us understand' - but Ι think she did not very much dislike it after all" (26-Aug-1819).[10]

This seems to be the end of the infatuation, although references to Miss Brown (and later Mrs Kelly, after her marriage) appear at least until 1824.


Maria Barlow - "With others Ι love the thing and not the person, with you it is the person Ι love"

In the autumn of 1824 Anne went for an extended stay in Paris with Elizabeth Cordingley - which explains why Cordingly is able to speak French in GJ. They stayed in Paris from September until the following April; Anne hoping to learn French and to find a cure for the "venereal taint" she had contracted from Mariana. It was at their lodgings at 24 Place Vendôme that Anne met Mrs Barlow and her daughter Jane.

Born Catherine Maria McCrea on December 28, 1786, Maria (as she was known) Barlow came from an aristocratic family in Guernsey (British Channel Islands). Her father was Major Robert McCrea[11] (1754-1835), who, like Captain Lister, fought in the American War of Independence. Her mother was Jeanne Coutart (1767-1796), who died shortly after the birth of her sixth child - who also died three months later. Robert McCrea subsequently married Jeanne Coutart's first cousin, Sophia Le Mesurier,[12] making her the second cousin of her own step-children.

Maria McCrea married Frederick Barlow in Town Church, St Peter Port, Guernsey on September 7, 1808. Lieutenant-Colonel Barlow was killed at the Battle of Salamanca, on July 22, 1812. Frederick and Maria Barlow had one child, Jane Maria, who was living at 24 Place Vendôme with her mother in 1824. Anne writes that she was 13 at the time, so would have been born in 1810 or 1811. Jane married a naval officer, Philip de Sausmarez of Guernsey, in 1840. She died at St Peter Port Guernsey on April 15, 1889; her mother having died there on March 24, 1847.

Anne's time in Paris is covered in detail by both Helena Whitbread's second volume "No Priest But Love", and Dannielle Orr's 2006 Murdoch University PhD thesis "A SOJOURN IN PARIS 1824-25 SEX AND SOCIABILITY IN THE MANUSCRIPT WRITINGS OF ANNE LISTER (1791-1840)". Ι am very grateful to both of them, especially as the diaries are exceptionally detailed (and closely written) during this period. All the diary entries presented here have been (re)transcribed by me, so any errors are mine, not theirs.
There's a more complete transcription of the January, 1825 diary here.
We see Mrs Barlow in GJ, in episode 2 just after Anne tells Ann about "pocket holes" in Paris, and that "Ι just went there to study anatomy". The scene is a flashback to Anne's Paris trip: she's in bed with Mrs Barlow, her face between her legs. Sally Wainwright's attention to detail is amazing, as Anne writes about oral sex with Mrs Barlow in the journal: "Kept the candle burning last night for some time after getting into bed hoping to see her but she would not let me... She had a cup of tea in bed and we grubbled again just before getting up - finally she let me put my head under the clothes, kiss the top of her queer, and look at her" (18-Jan-1825).

Anne and Elizabeth Cordingley arrived at their lodgings on September 1, 1824, finding several English residents, including Maria Barlow. Anne soon makes herself at home: "Mrs Barlow & Miss Mackenzie and Ι sat up talking, apparently all well satisfied with each other's company - Mrs Barlow quiet and ladylike and manages her small income well, but is not profound nor, after all, without vanity - which Ι know how to manage. Ι think Ι am a favorite[sic] in the house" (10-Sep-1824). Anne soon takes special notice of Mrs Barlow: "Ι talked almost entirely to Mrs Barlow, & a little to Mrs Mackenzie - Mrs B tells me Ι am certainly not plain. They all think me a fine woman and Ι am very sensible and agreeable. Ι rather gently compliment Mrs Barlow" (11-Sep-1824). "In the evening sat about an hour with Mrs Barlow - Her eyes ssparkled[sic] when she saw me and she was evidently afraid lest anyone else was coming - she surely wished to have me tête-à-tête. She rather flatters me on my talents and agreeableness, and Ι gently flatter her on being ladylike and pretty... Said Ι was no believer in platonic attachments - preferred ladies' company to gentlemen's - did many things ladies in general could not do, but did them quietly... Have all along told her Ι should not marry" (20-Sep-1824).

Less than three weeks later they both understand what's happening between them: "Came upstairs at 10:50 with Mrs B - stopt a few minutes talking to her in her anteroom - kissed her in the little dark passage as we came out of the dining room - she lets me kiss her now very quietly and sits with her feet close to mine. She said something to me when Ι took her round the waist tonight. 'Oh!,' said I, 'don't be angry, you know you cannot come to me tonight'. Said she significantly, 'you don't think me angry.' - [I]t is plain enough she likes me and Ι always feel excited when with her and even now in thinking of her... if Ι had a penis, tho' off[sic] but small length, Ι should surely break the ice some of these times" (7-Nov-1824). Then: "Ι had kissed and pressed Mrs B on my knee till Ι had had a complete fit of passion. My knees and thighs shook, my breathing and everything told her what was the matter. She said she did me no good. Ι said it was a little headache and Ι could go to sleep. Ι then leaned on her bosom and pretending to sleep kept pottering about and rubbing the surface of her queer - then made several gentle effortts[sic] to put my hand up her petticoats which however she prevented, but she so crossed her legs and leaned against me that Ι put my hand over and grubbled her on the outside of her petticoats till she was evidently a little excited" (11-Nov-1824).

As the two women became closer, Anne is less than honest to Mrs Barlow regarding her relationship with Mariana, until late November when the truth and its consequences come out: Anne reveals both her sexual connection with Mariana and her venereal condition: "Breakfast at 10 ½ - at 11 Mrs B- came to me, ready to go out immediately - we sat talking and lovemaking till after three... Letter from my aunt (Shibden) all well at home - very kindly do not wish me 'to be particular' to a week or longer 'about the time of my return home'[13] - on reading the 'glad Ι was better' rattled off with 'Ι came to Paris for my health' and afterwards said something of 'suffering for one's folly', Ι saw Mrs B understood me to allude to something venereal... Came up to bed at 9 ½ - Mrs B- came to me here at 9:55 & staid with me till 11:40 - she looked grave, she would not tell what she was thinking. At last it came out and got onto the subject of the morning. She said Ι had told her nothing new or that she did not know before. Ι expressed my astonishment - she declared she had made it out from my manner and what Ι had said before" (26-Nov-1824).

Despite the revelations, the affair continues and December 28 is "the first time Anne intimately touched Mrs Barlow" (Orr 2006, p.236). Here's part of the day's journal entry: "Dinner at 5 ¼ - Mrs B staid about ½ hour in the drawing room, then went to her room to bed - feeling tired & fatigued - Ι staid talking to Mrs Cunliffe till 7:40, then left her to her couffeur (a small soirée tonight) & went to Mrs B - found her ½ undressed, in bed - sat cozing perhaps ½ hour when Mrs & Miss Middleton came & staid a while with us to take leave - they go for a month to Madame de Cussy at 8 ½ tomorrow morning... then lay down by Mrs B and finding her tractable in spite of her pretending to say that Ι should forget her, and if Ι did she should not be sorry and if Ι remembered her she should not be glad - c'est égale pour elleit's all the same to her. In spite of this she quietly let me handle her right breast and then suck it for a considerable time, just saying once or twice 'you tickle me.' This over, by and by Ι got my hands to queer and was kneeling on the ground to feel her better when the sound of tea coming disturbed us at ten and a quarter. About eleven we sent the things away - Ι again lay down by her then sat up so as to have both my hands at queer - after long fumbling and finding her make no resistance Ι lay down, put my right arm round her waist and so managed my left as to get her petticoaat[sic] sufficiently up to feel her naked queer with one finger. She had before said 'Ι indulge you too much' (and Ι had replied 'Oh you will not think so, you will find no fault when we go to Italy'[14]) but find[ing] she still made no resistance Ι pushed up my middle finger half way. She met rather than receded, was evidently excited, and moved two or three times as if in coition - she just said 'Now are you satisfied?' and I, feeling that she had pleasure, began to breath loud and thick. 'What a noise you make!' said she, on which Ι ceased from but becoming agitated and trembling with desire she said twice 'Now Ι am sure you are doing yourself harm,' however Ι continued a little while longer. It struck twelve. 'Twelve [i]t is,' said she. Ι just whispered 'No, surely eleven' and she let [me] go on the minute or two longer, till finding she had had all Ι could then give her Ι withdrew my hand and gently kissed her. She said 'What is today?' Ι answered 'Tuesday' and after much entreaty to know why she inquired she said 'It is my birthday' (she is thirty eight) - said Ι am glad it is today, may you have many happy returns of it and may Ι always be the cause that makes it so. At this moment came Cordingley to say perhaps Ι did not know it had struck twelve. Ι said nothing but jumped up, kissed her and came away then wrote down what Ι had spent today and paid Cordingley, just observing that we must have had tea very late, and then sat down and had my hair curled. Mused [about?] Mrs B - she had said before tea Ι had many strings to my bow, to which Ι of course said no. 'Oh,' said she, 'You think there is none with whom you could not succeed.' 'Perhaps not,' Ι answered, 'except yourself.' 'Oh,' said she, 'don't talk of me, Ι am gone' - meaning that Ι had already succeeded with her. Ι had sometime before praised her pretty little figure - she said she could not think what difference it could make whether the waist was small or not. Ι rallied her saying tho' Ι liked Miss Gauntlet Ι had thought one would have a bad time with her. 'How different,' said she 'are your thoughts and mine,' however she allowed Mr Thistlethwaite said Miss G was all legs and arms that he liked to kiss her (Mrs B) from affection to Colonel B and that Mrs Middleton admired her figure even much more than Mrs Cunliffe, adding 'well Ι think Ι can nestle better than Miss Gauntlet and tho' she would be more striking Ι should be a better bedfellow than in a ballroom' to which Ι replied '[i]t is much better to be striking in a bedroom than in a ballroom, it is much more lasting.' She does not dislike my praising her figure and likes me to tell her when feeling her breasts that she is like a girl of sixteen. In fact she has no objection to a little flattery well applied - what woman has? Ι told her at first tonight how she improved me, how different she was from all the rest and when she said she indulged me too much, 'No,' said I, 'you do not indulge to love but love to indulge.' She said she was glad Ι knew the distinction. 'Perhaps,' said I, 'few know it better. With others Ι love the thing and not the person, with you it is the person Ι love.' 'If it was not so,' said she, 'Ι should not love you'" (28-Dec-1824).

Mrs Barlow decides to leave the Place Vendôme for an apartment of her own, and whether Anne would live with her there or not depended on Mrs Barlow's being sure of Anne's commitment to her, and on Anne being sure of herself. As usual, Anne prevaricates, weighing up the advantages of committing herself to Mariana or Mrs Barlow.

Ι think this entry sums up both her misgivings and her - perhaps overriding - sexual attraction to Maria Barlow: "Dinner at 6 - staid in the drawing room till 8, & then came to my room - tea about 9, & Mrs B- staid with me till 11:50 - Mrs B and Ι seemed quite left to ourselves. She had had a little pain in her back as common after [missing word?] and had lain down but got up to tea then had lain down again, and Ι got into her about ten and three quarters. Ι soon took up her petticoats sso[sic] as to feel her naked thighs next to mine in my drawers - then (after kissing with my tongue in her mouth) got the middle finger of my right hand up her and grubbled her longer and better than ever, she seeming rather more at ease than before and taking it with more motion[15] and apparent pleasure - which made me keep dawdling there a long time. She seemed more moist than before but really very nice. She hid her face on my shoulder and we lay a good while silent and as if half dozing. 'At last,' said I, 'have you not my affections and all my heart? How can Ι be more your own before we go to Italy?' 'Can you?' she answered, in a manner that seemed to say 'If you can be more my own, do' or as if inquiring whether Ι could think of anyway of being more hers at present or not. Ι had just before whispered to her 'Oh, don't forget me when Ι am away. Can you forget me now? Don't marry and forget me'. 'Ah,' said she, 'how can you talk so?'... If Mrs B is really the very being she seems Ι almost pity her - and then Ι love her. But, alas, what shall Ι say of myself? In spite of all Ι have no serious thought of her at present tho' Ι am so far seducing her. Oh, this is terrible! It is the thought of her being deep that has led me on. If Ι have really done her injustice in this perhaps time will tell and then Ι shall make up my mind. What would Mariana say? - alas she has not the [k]nack of making me constant, the charm is indeed broken. Ι never have forgotten nor can forget the manner of her marriage, etc. Ι have thought her interested[16] and this has poisoned all my mind. Perhaps Ι am too sceptic[al] now. If Ι am, poor Mrs B. Yet still [in] spite of knowing me engaged she has let me succeed with her. Ι know not what to think... Just after Mrs B went began incurring a cross and was three quarter hour about it, lying in bed thinking of her and using the finger that had been up her" (3-Jan-1825).

Anne and Mrs Barlow do decide to live together, and move into 15 Quai Voltaire on the left bank of the Seine on January 15, 1825.
Ι've transcribed most of the journal for January 1825 here.


Vere Hobart - an aristocratic connection

~~~ Content coming soon ~~~

Ann Walker - companion for life

~~~ Content coming soon ~~~





Footnotes: 
[1] Various sources suggest number 9, but the "Misses Norcliffe" (Isabella and Charlotte) didn't buy 9 Petergate until 1837.
[2] Unusually Helena Whitbread transcribes this line incorrectly in No Priest But Love.
[3] This is Helena Whitbread's supposition.
[4] Anne mentions Mariana in a letter to Isabella [Patricia Hughes].
[5] Mariana was the second wife of Charles Bourne Lawton (1770-1860). His first wife, Ann Featherstonhaugh, had died in 1814.
[6] Anne also referes to the Blackstone Edge incident as "the 3 steps".
[7] Helena Whitbread in The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister gives an excellent explanation of the coded message behind this. (In a nutshell, it's an expression of same-sex desire to a social inferior.)
[8] Footnote 6 from the chapter entitled "1814" of The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister by Helena Whitbread.
[9] Helena Whitbread, The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister.
[10] In this entry Anne uses a new symbol, the greek letter θ, which is clearly an abbreviation for Miss Brown - Ι've transcribed it as "Kallista" simply to indicate the new code.
[11] It seems that Mrs Barlow claimed that "her father a colonel at least, perhaps a general Macray" (AL: 11-Sep-1824).
[12] Descended from this branch of the family was John Le Mesurier, the actor who, if you are British of a certain age, you will know from the long-running TV series Dad's Army.
[13] Anne had planned to return to England before the end of the year - her treatment for her venereal condition and the affair with Mrs Barlow made her stay in Paris longer.
[14] "Going to Italy" seems to mean committing to a complete, sexual realtionship.
[15] Helena Whitbread in No Priest But Love changes "more motion" to "more emotion".
[16] Ι don't know what is meant by "interested"; Helena Whitbread suggests "worldly".
Page updated 19-Jun-2020