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I Know My Own Heart: The Diaries, 1791-1840
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I Know My Own Heart: The Diaries, 1791-1840

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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  104 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Upon publication, the first volume of Anne Lister's diaries, I Know My Own Heart, met with celebration, delight, and some skepticism. How could an upper class Englishwoman, in the first half of the nineteenth century, fulfill her emotional and sexual needs when her sexual orientation was toward other women? How did an aristocratic lesbian manage to balance sexual fulfillme ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 1st 1992 by New York University Press (first published June 1st 1992)
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Fiona
Of the twenty-seven volumes of elaborately-coded diaries which have (thankfully) survived, comprising four million words and covering a thirty-four year period, it has been an absolute delight to read this wonderfully-edited book of journal extracts and to have been provided with a vivid and fascinating insight into the fabric of Anne Lister’s life between 1817 and 1824.

In 1819, Ann - a passionately independent woman, self-educated scholar, lesbian, heiress, entrepreneur, traveller, wrote in he
...more
CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
The Diaries of Anne Lister is definitely the oldest “lesbian” book I’ve read to date. I’m putting lesbian in quotation marks because what is actually the most fascinating things about the diary is how Anne Lister explores her attraction to women and her sexual identity in a time before sexuality was such a defining characteristic for our identities and before the word lesbian even existed with our contemporary understanding of it (if anyone as nerdy as me is wondering, “lesbian” was first used i ...more
Christine
*This is not the exact edition I read. My edition was 360 pages and only included 6 years of Anne's diary.

Actually, let's start off with that. Including the years of Anne's birth and death suggested (to me) that this book was going to include the entirety of her diaries. I heard about Anne Lister from an episode of the wonderful Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast, which referenced I Know My Own Heart and made me determined to include it in June's reviews honoring Pride month. Anne lived i
...more
Meagan
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Completely fascinating to hear a woman so bluntly talk about her love for women and orgasms and desire-- BACK IN THE 1700's AND 1800'S! Somehow very comforting, for someone under the LGBT umbrella. Somehow solidifies that there have always been people such as us, somehow makes me feel more firmly planted in our history.
Heather Jones
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Most historic accounts of women who had same-sex desires or relationships with women show us only an outside observer's account. The motivations and feelings of the women involved are typically known only via their reports to others--a context where self-editing and self-censoring can be expected. This is why a record such as Anne Lister's can be so ground-breaking to our understanding.

Lister's diaries were never meant for any reader but herself. Key passages were encoded in a cipher to ensure p
...more
Jill
Oct 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Picked this book for book club because the film is making the circuits at the Lesbian & Gay film festival and it looked good, and the book is always better than the movie. Since I see the movie on Sunday, I'm hoping that's not true. I felt a bit cheated by the editor, she needed to take out more of the boring and not keep so much code (or use that grammar tool of brackets of you want to keep the original). She also went back and forth between endnotes and comments after an entry. Not sure wh ...more
Hazel
May 31, 2010 marked it as to-read
I'm watching a BBC documentary on this Regency diarist, who wrote in code, twice as prolifically as Pepys, and led an independent, accomplished life as a landowner and industrialist. She was also gay, and something of a lothario. This isn't what I learned from Austen!!
Gary Taylor
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating insight into the life of an independent gentle woman.Her coded diaries show how unconventional Anne Lister was,she was also clearly nothing like how she was portrayed in the BBC dramatisation.
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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
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“Friday 22 June 1821 [Halifax]

I owe a good deal to this journal. By unburdening my mind on paper I feel, as it were, in some degree to get rid of it; it seems made over to a friend that hears it patiently, keeps it faithfully, and by never forgetting anything, is always ready to compare the past & present and thus to cheer & edify the future.”
11 likes
“What a comfort is this journal. I tell myself to myself and throw the burden on my book and feel relieved.” 0 likes
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