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The Secret Diaries

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  96 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Anne Lister defied the role of womanhood seen in the novels of Jane Austen: she was bold, fiercely independent, a landowner, industrialist, traveler, and a lesbian. She kept extensive diaries of her life and loves, written partly in code. Made up ofGreek letters mingledwith other symbols of her own devising, Anne referred to the code as her "crypthand,"and the use of it al ...more
Paperback, 422 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Virago UK (first published November 4th 2010)
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Jennifer (JC-S)
Dec 17, 2011 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jennifer (JC-S) by: fionnabhair@bigpond.com
Shelves: librarybooks
‘I owe a great deal to this diary’.

Anne Lister (3 April 1791 - 22/9/1840) was a member of a family of prominent land owners: the Listers of Shibden Hall in Halifax (West Yorkshire, UK). In 1813, when her surviving brother accidentally drowned, Anne became heir to Shibden Hall. During her lifetime, Anne kept a diary which runs to some four million words. Thanks to this diary, we have access to a lot of detail about Anne's life: her sexual and emotional relationships with women; the minutiae of up
...more
blindmouse
Anne Lister, daughter and heiress of landed gentry in early nineteenth century England, kept journals all her life. Along with the entries about her day-to-day doings, her opinions of her neighbours, and the progress of her studies, there were coded sections in a cipher of her own invention. Under the freedom of the cipher she wrote about everything: most notably her lesbian affairs and heartbreaks, but also her neuroses about clothing (seriously she uses the code for every single mention of clo ...more
Rachael Eyre
Like most other readers, I first encountered Anne Lister via the TV drama starring Maxine Peake. I tracked down a copy of the book but it was decidedly dog eared - I was relieved to find it on the Kindle.

Like the drama, the diaries are a bit of a jumble. Anne doesn't come across as particularly likeable - she sets far too much store by social class and etiquette, on occasion being ashamed of her own family. Seeing as she is a contemporary of Jane Austen, this obsession seems to have been univers
...more
Sharon Ludbrook
Living in Halifax I love this book what a read about the area I live Also Helena Whitbread was a teacher of mine so even more so

It just proves even in the 1800's a strong woman can pull through although her attitude to people less fortunate than herself was a bit up her self
Sally
A fascinating diary, both for its detail of daily life in the period, and for its frank descriptions of Anne's lesbian relationships and how they were perceived by those around her.
Cici
So boring I couldn't finish it...
Mel
I first heard of Anne Lister a year ago when the BBC did a documentary and a dramatisation about her life. This book is extracts from her diary with commentary by the editor giving additional details of what is happening in Anne's life at that time. The diary itself is a mixture of dry and dull preceedings with heartfelt and heartbreaking discussions about the women in her life and their strengths and failings. It is wonderful as so much of queer women's history is often dismissed as being "emot ...more
Maldemal
Interesting. Good commentary, but I wish it covered a longer period of her life (she wrote her diaries for much longer than the years that are covered in this book). It's weird, reading someone's diary. It feels like someone you know now. I got a bit low over the fact that the part of her life that was covered in this volume was so dull and fruitless. For a woman of that class, without enough money, life was, basically, shit. It was perhaps better for those she termed "vulgar" and to "low" for h ...more
Gemma Smith
I had been really excited to read this book after watching a documentary on Anne Lister and her diaries. It was probably because of how excellent the documentary was at pinpointing the exciting extracts and times of her life, that I found myself a bit bored reading her actual words. Although it was interesting to gain an insight into the everyday life of a person in the 1800s, at times this made it a little dull.

Her relationships with other women (friends, lovers and potential lovers) were fasc
...more
Natasha (Diarist) Holme
Apr 17, 2012 Natasha (Diarist) Holme rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lesbians, historians
Recommended to Natasha (Diarist) by: My lesbian tutor
Anne Lister was a pretty much 'out' lesbian who lived two hundred years ago and who recorded her love affairs in numerous encoded diaries. Wow.

These diaries were first mentioned to me in 1989 (then entitled 'I Know My Own Heart') by a lesbian tutor of mine at University when she discovered that I kept my own encoded diaries. I was thrilled that such a book could exist and ordered it immediately. There was hardly any lesbian reading matter around at that time, so I was utterly gripped.

I re-read t
...more
Kristy
Parts of this book were very interesting and this is undoubtedly a very important piece of lesbian history but I did sometimes get bored of all the day to day stuff about what she bought, ate, where she walked to etc so it took me a while to plough through.

Anne Lister was way ahead of her time and seemingly not afraid of her feelings for other women or apologetic. In fact she was so sure of herself that if she took a fancy to someone she would believe absolutely that they would be hers. For her
...more
Darinka
Wonderful to read about such a hidden part of history, to know how it would've been in another time.
michelle
May 19, 2012 michelle marked it as to-read
I like this but am not in the mood for it. Back it goes to the library until I'm feeling like reading it.
Katherine Olivia
best book ever 10/10 better than shakespeare
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Anne Lister (1791–1840) was a well-off Yorkshire landowner, diarist and traveller. Throughout her life she kept diaries which chronicled the details of her everyday life, including her lesbian relationships, her financial concerns, her industrial activities and her work improving Shibden Hall. Her diaries contain more than 4,000,000 words and about a sixth of them—those concerning the intimate det ...more
More about Anne Lister...
I Know My Own Heart: The Diaries, 1791-1840 No Priest But Love: The Journals, 1824-1826 Slipping Through the Cracks Miss Lister Of Shibden Hall, Halifax: Selected Letters, 1800 1840

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